Transcript for the Piece Audio version of Best of Distillations #2
0:00 UP THEME MUSIC
Hello, and welcome to Distillations ? weekly extracts from the past, present and future of chemistry. I?m Meir Rinde. This week we?re bringing you highlights from our favorite past episodes. We?ll listen back to a discussion about posthumous miracles, and revisit a crackling commentary about pop rocks.
That?s all coming up on today?s ?best of? episode of Distillations.
Not every element we?ve explored on our show can be found on the periodic table. In our body chemical show from awhile back, we looked at an element that was once considered a basic building block of the human body. Our former host, Robert Hicks, has more in the Element of the Week.
ELEMENT OF THE WEEK (from episode 5 ? body chemical)
Black bile was one of the four humors ? along with yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. The balance of these four elements in the body was believed not only to determine a person?s health, but their personality as well. The theory, known as humorism, was first popularized by Hippocrates and was used consistently in Western medical practice until well into the 19th century.
Each humor had a different quality and was associated with a different season. Black bile was an autumn humor, cold and dry, represented by the spleen. An excess of black bile was thought to cause sleeplessness, irritability, and despondency ? or as it was known at the time ? melancholia.
Because disease was thought to result from an imbalance of the humors, treatments were designed to regulate their levels. Therapies like bleeding and cupping restored balance, and were believed to bring the patient back to health.
The concept of the four humors fell out of fashion in the late 19th century, but references to it still exist today. We?ve all had days of ?bad humor,? and what we now think of as old wives tales about drafts, wet feet, or going outside with wet hair ? can all be traced to a humoral interpretation of the body chemical.
And that?s it for the Element of the Week.
TRANSITION TO INTERVIEW (from episode 32 ? religion)
Next up, we?ll listen back to an interview with Jackie Duffin - a hematologist and historian of medicine at Queen?s University in Ontario. She spoke with CHF?s Audra Wolfe about the Vatican?s Miracle Verification Unit and the process of proving sainthood.
BACK ANNOUNCE ? SHOW ID
Jacalyn Duffin is Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine at Queen?s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her new book, Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World, will be released in October by Oxford University Press.
Have comments or questions about something you?ve heard on our show? Send your thoughts to distillations at chemheritage dot org.
You?re listening to the best of Distillations. I?m Meir Rinde.
MUSIC ? TRANSITION TO CHEM IN YOUR CUPBOARD (from episode 21 ? sound)
Finally today, from our sound episode ? we?ll listen back to a piece on the snap and crackle of pop rocks. Jennifer Dionisio has more in Chemistry in Your Cupboard.
CHEMISTRY IN YOUR CUPBOARD
Pop rocks were invented in 1956 and introduced to market in 1975 by William A. Mitchell, a food chemist at General Foods. A master of novelty foods, Mitchell also invented Tang, quick-set Jell-O, Cool Whip, and powdered egg whites. Pop rocks are made by subjecting the sugary candy, still in liquid form, to high-pressure carbon dioxide gas. As the candy cools off and solidifies, microscopic bubbles of CO2 are formed throughout. In fact, if you look at the candy with a magnifying glass, you can actually see the bubbles of trapped gas. When you eat pop rocks, the moisture in our mouths melts the candy and releases the carbon dioxide?creating its signature pop and sizzle.
The well-circulated urban legend says that if you eat pop rocks and drink carbonated soda at the same time, so much gas will be released that your stomach will explode. Remember Mikey, the kid from the Life cereal commercials? He supposedly died this way. Like most urban legends, this isn?t true?but reality didn?t stop an onslaught of parental concern. The FDA even set up a hotline to announce the candy?s harmlessness. General Foods tried to fight back by taking out full-page advertisements in over 45 major publications and sending inventor Mitchell all over the country to demonstrate the candy?s safety. Eventually, General Foods stopped selling the candy in 1983, which further fueled the urban legend. Today, pop rocks are manufactured and sold by Zeta Espacial S.A., a candy company in Spain. Incidentally, Mitchell was actually trying to create ?instant soda? when he stumbled upon this explosively sweet invention. And that?s today?s Chemistry in Your Cupboard. I?m Jennifer Dionisio.
MUSIC ? BACK ANNOUNCE ? SHOW CLOSE
Jennifer Dioniso is program coordinator for biotechnology at the Chemical Heritage Foundation?s Center for Contemporary History and Policy. And that?s it for this week?s episode of the best of Distillations. We?ll be back next time with an all new show. Until then, I?m Meir Rinde.
THEME MUSIC AND CREDITS
Distillations is a presentation of the Chemical Heritage Foundation and is made possible by the generous support of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Mia Lobel is our senior producer with help this week from Lyssa Rome. Our assistant producer is Victoria Indivero, and our executive producer is Audra Wolfe. Our theme music is composed and performed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music provided from the Podsafe Music Network. Check it out at music dot podshow dot com. Please, tell us what you think about our program, and send suggestions for future shows to distillations at chemheritage dot org. Until next time, I'm Meir Rinde.Back