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Month: March 2012

Distillations #144 – Mystery of Mass (Spec)

On this episode of Distillations, we tackle Mass Spectrometry – a technology that’s hard to explain and even harder to say. (Go ahead, try it!) First we learn about some of its modern uses – like newborn genetic screening and testing for steroids. Then we dip into the CHF oral history archives to hear a portion of an interview with mass spec pioneer Alfred Nier – who worked on the instrument during the Manhattan Project and beyond. And if you still haven’t gotten your fill of mass spec, visit CHF’s new online exhibit.

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Distillations #143 – Fairyland of Chemistry

Before there was Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy, there was the Fairyland of Chemistry – a late-19th century children’s book in which fairies (as the elements) dance around and join hands to make hydrochloric acid and other compounds. On this episode of Distillations we explain how educators used these fairy tale images to teach chemistry. And we present our first ever podcast play – a dramatic reading of part of the book.

Image from Real Fairy Folks: Explorations in the World of Atoms, by Lucy Rider Meyer, 1887. Courtesy of CHF’s collections.

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Distillations #142 – Mid-Century Mutants

This episode of Distillations is about the early days of genetic modification. When gene manipulation first became popular in the 1940’s it was seen as a great new fad; a way to speed up evolution. People even grew atomic gardens using radioactive seeds. We interview a Yale PhD student about her research on this. Then, when Harry Truman announced major funding for the hydrogen bomb in 1950, people started to get a little nervous. Hollywood played out the worst case scenarios in a slew of monster movies. We celebrate those sci-fi classics in the second half of the show.

While researching this episode, I found this video produced by GE in 1952. I’ll give you a dollar if you can find the clip I snuck into the show. 🙂


Image courtesy of Flickr user Marxchivist.

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