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Distillations | Science History Institute

Distillations | Science History Institute

Author: Science History Institute

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Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.
259 Episodes
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Promo: LIVE Halloween show!

Promo: LIVE Halloween show!

2019-10-2400:00:59

Come see Distillations LIVE for our Halloween Spooktacular! The show is Wednesday, October 30th at 7pm at the Science History Institute in Old City Philadelphia.
Almost six million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. And with baby boomers getting older, those numbers are only expected to rise. This disease, despite being studied by scientists for more than 100 years, has no cure. In our two-part series we first dive into the personal lives of the people at the heart of this disease: the patients and their caregivers. Then we uncover why effective treatments for Alzheimer’s lag so far behind those for cancer, heart disease, and HIV. It turns out that for all the decades researchers have been at war with the disease, they’ve also been at war with each other. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick  Reporter: Rigoberto Hernandez Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Senior Producer: Mariel CarrAudio Engineer: James Morrison Music courtesy of the Audio Network. These songs were used courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions:  "Kalsted,""Stretch of Lonely," "Thin Passage," "Waltz and Fury," "Dash and Slope," "Gilroy Solo," 'House of Grendel," "Uncertain Ground," and "Watercool-Quiet." Research Notes “2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer’s Association, 2019. Begley, Sharon. “As Alzheimer’s Drug Developers Give Up on Today’s Patients, Where Is the Outrage?” Stat News. August 15, 2018. Begley, Sharon. “The Maddening Saga of How an Alzheimer’s ‘Cabal’ Thwarted Progress toward a Cure for Decades.” Stat News. June 25, 2019. “Biogen Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Positive Results.” CNBC. July 25, 2018. “The Clinical Trial Journey.” Mayo Clinic. Youtube video. June 5, 2019. Garde, Damian. “Alzheimer’s Study Sparks a New Round of Debate over the Amyloid Hypothesis.” Stat News. July 30, 2018. Hogan, Alex. “The Disappointing History of Alzheimer’s Research.” Stat News. May 21, 2019. Itzhaki, Ruth. “Alzheimer’s Disease: Mounting Evidence That Herpes Virus Is a Cause.” The Conversation. October 19, 2018. Keshavan, Meghana. “On Alzheimer’s, Scientists Head Back to the Drawing Board—and Once-Shunned Ideas Get an Audience.” Stat News. July 22, 2019. Li, Yun. “Biogen Posts It’s the Worst Day in 14 Years after Ending Trial for Blockbuster Alzheimer’s Drug.” CNBC. March 21, 2019.  “Lilly Alzheimer’s Drug Does Not Slow Memory Loss: Study.” CNBC. November 23, 2016.  “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; Living with Alzheimer’s.” 1983-04-12, National Records and Archives Administration, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston and Washington, DC, accessed October 16, 2019.  “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1991-08-16, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 22, 2019. Makin, Simon. “The Amyloid Hypothesis on Trial.” Nature. July 25, 2018. Prusiner, Stanley. Madness and Memory: The Discovery of Prions—A New Biological Principle of Disease. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. Robakis, Nikolaos, et al. “Alzheimer’s Disease: A Re-examination of the Amyloid Hypothesis.” ALZforum.org. March 26, 1998. Shenk, David. “The Forgetting—Alzheimer’s: Portrait of an Epidemic.” New York: Anchor, 2013.  “Virginia Lee and John Trojanowski on the Protein Road Map to Alzheimer’s.” Science Watch. December 2011.
Almost six million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. And with baby boomers getting older, those numbers are only expected to rise. This disease, despite being studied by scientists for more than 100 years, has no cure. In our two-part series we first dive into the personal lives of the people at the heart of this disease: the patients and their caregivers. Then we uncover why effective treatments for Alzheimer’s lag so far behind those for cancer, heart disease, and HIV. It turns out that for all the decades researchers have been at war with the disease, they’ve also been at war with each other. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick  Reporter: Rigoberto Hernandez Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Senior Producer: Mariel CarrAudio Engineer: James Morrison Music courtesy of the Audio Network. These songs were used courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions:  "Kalsted,""Stretch of Lonely," "Thin Passage," "Waltz and Fury," "Dash and Slope," "Gilroy Solo," 'House of Grendel," "Uncertain Ground," and "Watercool-Quiet." Research Notes “2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer’s Association, 2019. Begley, Sharon. “As Alzheimer’s Drug Developers Give Up on Today’s Patients, Where Is the Outrage?” Stat News. August 15, 2018. Begley, Sharon. “The Maddening Saga of How an Alzheimer’s ‘Cabal’ Thwarted Progress toward a Cure for Decades.” Stat News. June 25, 2019. “Biogen Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Positive Results.” CNBC. July 25, 2018. “The Clinical Trial Journey.” Mayo Clinic. Youtube video. June 5, 2019. Garde, Damian. “Alzheimer’s Study Sparks a New Round of Debate over the Amyloid Hypothesis.” Stat News. July 30, 2018. Hogan, Alex. “The Disappointing History of Alzheimer’s Research.” Stat News. May 21, 2019. Itzhaki, Ruth. “Alzheimer’s Disease: Mounting Evidence That Herpes Virus Is a Cause.” The Conversation. October 19, 2018. Keshavan, Meghana. “On Alzheimer’s, Scientists Head Back to the Drawing Board—and Once-Shunned Ideas Get an Audience.” Stat News. July 22, 2019. Li, Yun. “Biogen Posts It’s the Worst Day in 14 Years after Ending Trial for Blockbuster Alzheimer’s Drug.” CNBC. March 21, 2019.  “Lilly Alzheimer’s Drug Does Not Slow Memory Loss: Study.” CNBC. November 23, 2016.  “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; Living with Alzheimer’s.” 1983-04-12, National Records and Archives Administration, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston and Washington, DC, accessed October 16, 2019.  “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1991-08-16, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 22, 2019. Makin, Simon. “The Amyloid Hypothesis on Trial.” Nature. July 25, 2018. Prusiner, Stanley. Madness and Memory: The Discovery of Prions—A New Biological Principle of Disease. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. Robakis, Nikolaos, et al. “Alzheimer’s Disease: A Re-examination of the Amyloid Hypothesis.” ALZforum.org. March 26, 1998. Shenk, David. “The Forgetting—Alzheimer’s: Portrait of an Epidemic.” New York: Anchor, 2013.  “Virginia Lee and John Trojanowski on the Protein Road Map to Alzheimer’s.” Science Watch. December 2011.
Listen to The Alzheimer's Copernicus Problem on October 22nd. 
Science on TV

Science on TV

2019-09-1701:10:17

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 History Institute and a historian of science and media, about five key contributors to the science television landscape: the Johns Hopkins Science Review, Watch Mr. Wizard, NOVA, 3-2-1 Contact, and our favorite turtleneck-wearing celebrity scientist, Carl Sagan. Our conversation revealed that successful science shows have always had one thing in common: they don’t treat their audiences like dummies.
Preview: Fall 2019

Preview: Fall 2019

2019-08-1300:04:26

We're in the thick of producing episodes for our fall season! Here's a taste of what's coming.
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 that make our gadgets faster, stronger, and lighter. And we've all been coasting along enjoying their magic for a while now. In fact, we've come to expect magic. But magic comes at a cost, and in the case of mining and processing rare earths, that cost is environmental devastation. Most of us in the Western world aren’t aware of the destruction/ because most rare earths are mined elsewhere. But some scientists are trying to find a more environmentally sound way to get them. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Reporter: Rigoberto Hernandez Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison Music courtesy of the Audio Network, Blue Dot Sessions, and the Free Music Archive. Research Notes Abraham, David. Elements of Power. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.  The Californian Rare Earths Mine Caught between Trump and China. Bloomberg News, September 26, 2018.   “China-Japan Boat Crash Video Posted.” Al Jazeera, November 5, 2010.  “China Threatens to Cut Off Rare Earth Minerals as Trade War Escalates.” MSNBC, May 30, 2019.  “Colorado Experience: Uranium Mania.” Rocky Mountain PBS, November 2, 2017.  “Critical Materials Strategy.” U.S. Department of Energy, December 2010.   Desai, Pratima. “Tesla’s Electric Motor Shift to Spur Demand for Rare Earth Neodymium.”Reuters, March 12, 2018.  Gifford, Rob. “Yellow River Pollution Is Price of Economic Growth.” National Public Radio, All Things Considered, December 11, 2007.  Haxel, Gordon, Hedrick, James, Orris, Greta. “Rare Earth Elements—Critical Resources for High Technology.” U.S. Geological Survey, Fact Sheet 087-02, November 20, 2002.  Kalantzakos, Sophia. China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.  Kean, Sam. “Ytterby: The Tiny Swedish Island That Gave the Periodic Table Four Different Elements.” Slate, July 16, 2010.  Kim, Meeri. “Exposing the Trail of Devastation.” Sarah Lawrence College Magazine,” Fall 2018.  Klinger, Julie. Rare Earth Frontiers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017.  Lovins, Amory. “Clean Energy and Rare Earths: Why Not to Worry.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 23, 2017. “Obama Denounces China on Rare Earth Elements.” AFP News Agency, March 13, 2012.  “PBS NewsHour; June 14, 2010 7:00 pm–8:00 pm EDT.” American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston and Washington, DC. Accessed June 24, 2019.  “Running from Rare Earth Metals.” Bloomberg, June 30, 2015.  Salomon, Charlotte Abney. “Finding Yttrium: Joan Gadolin and the Development of a ‘Discovery.’” CHF Brown Bag Lecture Series, March 10, 2015.  “Story of Color Television.” RCA, 1956.  Thomson, Gene. “Hot Canyon.” Ames Laboratory, June 18, 2012.  Turner, Roger. “Material Matters: The Past and Present of Rare Earth Elements Essential to Our Future.” Joseph Priestley Society Lecture, Science History Institute, Philadelphia, February 14, 2019. 
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 that make our gadgets faster, stronger, and lighter. And we've all been coasting along enjoying their magic for a while now. In fact, we've come to expect magic. But magic comes at a cost, and in the case of mining and processing rare earths, that cost is environmental devastation. Most of us in the Western world aren’t aware of the destruction/ because most rare earths are mined elsewhere. But some scientists are trying to find a more environmentally sound way to get them. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Reporter: Rigoberto Hernandez Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison Music courtesy of the Audio Network, Blue Dot Sessions, and the Free Music Archive. Research Notes Abraham, David. Elements of Power. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.  The Californian Rare Earths Mine Caught between Trump and China. Bloomberg News, September 26, 2018.   “China-Japan Boat Crash Video Posted.” Al Jazeera, November 5, 2010.  “China Threatens to Cut Off Rare Earth Minerals as Trade War Escalates.” MSNBC, May 30, 2019.  “Colorado Experience: Uranium Mania.” Rocky Mountain PBS, November 2, 2017.  “Critical Materials Strategy.” U.S. Department of Energy, December 2010.   Desai, Pratima. “Tesla’s Electric Motor Shift to Spur Demand for Rare Earth Neodymium.”Reuters, March 12, 2018.  Gifford, Rob. “Yellow River Pollution Is Price of Economic Growth.” National Public Radio, All Things Considered, December 11, 2007.  Haxel, Gordon, Hedrick, James, Orris, Greta. “Rare Earth Elements—Critical Resources for High Technology.” U.S. Geological Survey, Fact Sheet 087-02, November 20, 2002.  Kalantzakos, Sophia. China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.  Kean, Sam. “Ytterby: The Tiny Swedish Island That Gave the Periodic Table Four Different Elements.” Slate, July 16, 2010.  Kim, Meeri. “Exposing the Trail of Devastation.” Sarah Lawrence College Magazine,” Fall 2018.  Klinger, Julie. Rare Earth Frontiers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017.  Lovins, Amory. “Clean Energy and Rare Earths: Why Not to Worry.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 23, 2017. “Obama Denounces China on Rare Earth Elements.” AFP News Agency, March 13, 2012.  “PBS NewsHour; June 14, 2010 7:00 pm–8:00 pm EDT.” American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston and Washington, DC. Accessed June 24, 2019.  “Running from Rare Earth Metals.” Bloomberg, June 30, 2015.  Salomon, Charlotte Abney. “Finding Yttrium: Joan Gadolin and the Development of a ‘Discovery.’” CHF Brown Bag Lecture Series, March 10, 2015.  “Story of Color Television.” RCA, 1956.  Thomson, Gene. “Hot Canyon.” Ames Laboratory, June 18, 2012.  Turner, Roger. “Material Matters: The Past and Present of Rare Earth Elements Essential to Our Future.” Joseph Priestley Society Lecture, Science History Institute, Philadelphia, February 14, 2019. 
Preview: Rare Earths

Preview: Rare Earths

2019-06-1800:02:19

Rare earths power our modern world. They make the magic happen. But at what cost? Tune in to our next episode on June 25th.
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 nice, tidy story. But in reality things were much more complicated and involved politics, the space race, and just plain timing. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Reporter: Larry Buhl Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison Music courtesy of the Audio Network Research Notes “Carl Stokes and the River Fire.” National Park Service. Last updated May 2, 2019.  “The Cuyahoga River Fire: A New Mayor Tackles an Old Problem.” CSU Digital Humanities. YouTube video, 01:07, August 6, 2010. “The Cuyahoga River Fire, Part 1: Don’t Fall in the River.” CSU Center for Public History and Digital Humanities. Video, 01:23, 2010. “Cuyahoga River Pollution Ohio 1967.” YouTube video, 04:45, March 20, 2010.  Cuyahoga River Restoration. Doyle, Jack. “Burn On, Big River…,” Cuyahoga River Fires, PopHistoryDig.com, May 12, 2014.  Heaton, Michael. “Burning River Fest Parties in the Name of the Environment.” Plain Dealer, July 19, 2012. Holt, Lawrence R., and Diane Garey, dir. The Return of the Cuyahoga. 2008. Oley, PA: Bullfrog Films.  Rotman, Michael. “Cuyahoga River Fire.” Cleveland Historical Society, April 27, 2017.  Scott, Michael. “Scientists Monitor Cuyahoga River Quality to Adhere to Clean Water Act.” Plain Dealer, April 12, 2009. Stradling, David, and Richard Stradling. Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015.  “Year of the River: A Look at the Cuyahoga River 40 Years after It Caught Fire.” Special series, Plain Dealer, 2011.
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Comments (1)

Julia Eva

This 3 part series has been incredible. The music, the breakdown and the relevance to Philadelphia being the city Distillations originates from..I think it is a stand out of this podcast. More like this would be greatly appreciated! such an important and educational series.

Oct 30th
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