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Distillations Podcast

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Distillations podcast explores the human stories behind science and technology, tracing a path through history in order to better understand the present. Each month we explore stories from the intersection of science, culture, and history.

We're produced by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that fosters dialogue on science and technology in society. 


  • Added: Jan 17, 2018
  • Length: 25:35
Caption: Cover from Ray Bradbury's short story, "The Veldt."
A cautionary tale of technology run riot.

  • Added: Dec 13, 2017
  • Length: 27:11
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Margarine’s history began with French emperor Napoleon III, a French chemist, and some sheep’s stomachs, and went on to include heated courtroom de...

Bought by PRX Remix

  • Added: Nov 16, 2017
  • Length: 20:52
  • Purchases: 1
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If natural selection favors reproductive success then why does anyone outlive their ability to reproduce? Grandmothers, it turns out, might be the ...

  • Added: Oct 18, 2017
  • Length: 18:06
Caption: Dr. Abdelwahhab Azzawi
Adolphe Dessauer and Abdelwahhab Azzawi were both esteemed physicians who faced violence and persecution in their home countries. They both sought ...

  • Added: Sep 14, 2017
  • Length: 30:39
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What do you do when your child is really sick, and it’s because of decisions the founders of your religion made more than 300 years ago? And what d...

  • Added: Aug 16, 2017
  • Length: 27:16
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On April 22, 2017, more than one million people in 600 cities around the world took to the streets in the name of science. Many were scientists the...

Bought by KRZA and WXDU

  • Added: Jun 19, 2017
  • Length: 21:21
  • Purchases: 2
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Today 20 percent of American adults are inked. Tattoos just don’t carry the stigma they once did—unless it’s a particular kind of tattoo, in a part...

Bought by KALW

  • Added: May 09, 2017
  • Length: 20:56
  • Purchases: 1
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Most of us are content to use our existing five senses to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch our way through the world. But an increasing number of...

  • Added: Apr 05, 2017
  • Length: 25:26
Caption: 1950s advertising. Vintage original magazine advertisement advert for MUM perspiration cream for women, Credit: f8 archive / Alamy Stock Photo
How Deodorant Became Omnipresent in America

Bought by WRIR

  • Added: Mar 15, 2017
  • Length: 15:47
  • Purchases: 1
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The Unexpected Origin of the Sports Bra

Bought by PRX Remix

  • Added: Feb 16, 2017
  • Length: 17:10
  • Purchases: 1
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The Unnatural History of a Carbonated Drink

Bought by WRIR

  • Added: Feb 16, 2017
  • Length: 13:27
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Illustration from Obstetric tables depicting the correct use of forceps in 1850., Credit: Spratt, G. (George). Digitized by the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Once upon a time all births were natural. A lot has happened since then.

  • Added: Oct 07, 2016
  • Length: 01:01:12
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A look back at how outsiders have influenced medicine throughout time.

  • Added: Sep 07, 2016
  • Length: 13:51
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Are we overestimating artificial intelligence?

  • Added: Aug 10, 2016
  • Length: 28:19
Caption: Famous taxidermist Carl Akeley posing with the leopard he killed with his bare hands
Taxidermy is back. This time, with glitter.

Bought by WXDU

  • Added: Jul 07, 2016
  • Length: 26:05
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Babes of Science podcast logo., Credit: Courtesy of Poncie Rutsch
Most people can’t name a single female scientist besides Marie Curie. We hope to change that.

  • Added: Jun 08, 2016
  • Length: 26:17
Caption: Detail of the Codex Mendoza's folio 60r showing a Mexica mother teaching her daughter to make tortillas., Credit: Michael E. Smith, The Aztecs. Wikimedia Commons.
Dive into the world of nixtamalization, a chemical process that allowed the Mesoamerican empires to thrive and tacos to taste good.

  • Added: Jun 08, 2016
  • Length: 15:38
Caption: An early blood transfusion from lamb to man, 1705. , Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
Blood is powerful, but it can also be dangerous.

  • Added: Jun 08, 2016
  • Length: 25:46
Caption: An engraving from Michael Maier's Symbola aureae mensae (1617) depicting an alchemical androgyne.
Society has long had strict ideas about sex and gender binaries, but nature doesn’t always comply.

  • Added: Jun 08, 2016
  • Length: 29:33