Distillations: Science + Culture + History

Distillations: Science + Culture + History

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.... Show More

Episodes

September 17, 2019 70 min

For almost as long as there have been television networks, science shows have been part of the TV landscape. But science programming didn’t begin by accident. At first it was a way for TV stations to build trust with their audiences; then it was used as a ploy to get families to buy more television sets. But as the world changed, so did science on TV. Distillations interviewed Ingrid Ockert, a fellow at the Science Hist... Read more

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August 13, 2019 4 min

We're in the thick of producing episodes for our fall season! Here's a taste of what's coming.

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The 17 rare earth elements are often called the spices or vitamins of industry. While we don’t need much of them, they’re sprinkled in small amounts through our most powerful, futuristic, and dare we say it, magical tools. They power our iPhones and computers; they’re in wind turbines and hybrid cars. They’re in dental implants, X-ray machines, and life-saving cancer drugs. They have unusual magnetic and electrical properties th... Read more

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The 17 rare earth elements are often called the spices or vitamins of industry. While we don’t need much of them, they’re sprinkled in small amounts through our most powerful, futuristic, and dare we say it, magical tools. They power our iPhones and computers; they’re in wind turbines and hybrid cars. They’re in dental implants, X-ray machines, and life-saving cancer drugs. They have unusual magnetic and electrical properties th... Read more

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June 18, 2019 2 min

Rare earths power our modern world. They make the magic happen. But at what cost?

Tune in to our next episode on June 25th.

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In the summer of 1969 the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, defied the laws of nature and caught fire. Time covered the event and cemented the fire’s place in national lore. The story that followed says this fire captured the country’s attention and brought to light the environmental hazards not only in Cleveland but in the country as a whole. And it went on to spark the modern environmental movement. This all sounds like such a n... Read more

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April 23, 2019 40 min

When we think about the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s hard not to think about the current immigration conflict and the contentious idea to build a wall. But the concept of a border wall isn’t new: proposals for walls have been made for more than 100 years. Our story starts in 1947, when a group of Texas ranchers demanded a fence along their state’s border with Mexico. Their motivation, though, was to stop an outbreak of a disease that s... Read more

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April 9, 2019 1 min

When Mexico and the United States resolved their beef. 

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March 19, 2019 36 min

In the late 1950s a Texas town on the Gulf of Mexico was suffering from a devastating, decade-long drought. But while the wells ran dry, the ocean lapped at the town’s shore, taunting the thirsty residents with its endless supply of undrinkable water. Undrinkable, that is, until President John F. Kennedy stepped in to save the day with the promise of science. The evolving technology of desalination wouldn’t just end droughts: it wo... Read more

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March 5, 2019 2 min

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This Valentine’s Day we could have just brought you some sappy love stories from science’s past. But instead we offer you three tales of lust, loneliness, betrayal, pettiness, and not one, but two beheadings. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Reporters: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Audio Engineer: James Morrison Photo illustration by Jay Mu... Read more

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January 15, 2019 42 min

Egyptian scriptures from 1200 BCE describe painful, migraine-like headaches, so we know the disorder has afflicted people for at least three thousand years. Still, the condition continues to mystify us today. Anne Hoffman is a reporter, a professor, and a chronic migraine sufferer. She spent the past year tracing the history of migraines, hoping to discover clues about a treatment that actually works for her. The journey took her i... Read more

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Happy holidays from all of us here at Distillations. This holiday season our gift to you is a sneak peak at some of the stories we have in the works for 2019.

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In April 1988 Harvard University was awarded a patent that was the first of its kind. U.S. Patent Number 4,736,866 was small, white, and furry, with red beady eyes. His name was OncoMouse. The mouse, genetically engineered to have a predisposition for cancer, allowed researchers to study the disease in an intact living organism. It promised to transform cancer research, but not everyone was happy. Most critics were wary of patentin... Read more

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November 13, 2018 1 min

Tune in to the next episode of Distillations on November 20th!

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“We should never, ever forget that addiction treatment is a search for meaning in a place other than using drugs.” —Nancy Campbell, historian of drug addiction (This is the third and final chapter of a three-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2.) In the final chapter of this series we travel to the heart of our modern opioid crisis. In what is now a notorious Philadelphia neighborhood called Kensington, we meet two victims of the ep... Read more

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Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-part series that investigates how we’ve understood and treated opioid addiction over more than a century. Through the years we’ve categorized opioid addiction as some combination of a mora... Read more

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In our next episode we’re continuing our three-part series on the history of opioid addiction treatment in the United States. And we’re going back to the early 1960s, when the foundations for our modern opioid addiction treatment system were being built--starting with a controversial drug rehabilitation program called Synanon. Tune in to our next episode, Synanon and the Tunnel Back to the Human Race, on September 18. 

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Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-part series that investigates how we’ve understood and treated opioid addiction over more than a century. Through the years we’ve categorized opioid addiction as some combination of a mora... Read more

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