#HistChem Interactive Webcasts

  1. Our fifth episode of #HistChem, “Drawing History: Telling the Stories of Science through Comics and Graphic Novels,” approaches the human stories of science in a new way: by visualizing them. Our guests, historian Bert Hansen and author and illustrator Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, discuss how the comics of the 1940s and 50s relayed stories of “real heroes”—including doctors, chemists and physicists, and how new graphic genres are engaging readers and sparking their interest in history.

    Fetter-Vorm and Hansen suggest that elements of surprise, emotion and showing the impossible work to engage readers in ways that written words alone cannot.

    Learn more: chemheritage.org/media

    TIME STAMPS

    02:01 VIDEO: Jonathan Fetter-Vorm in his studio
    05:09 BOB KENWORTHY: What got you each interested in your topic?
    05:36 JONATHAN FETTER-VORM: I like the idea of telling stories sequentially, so you can get away with drawing several images instead of just drawing one image to get your point across.
    06:25 JONATHAN FETTER-VORM: My grandfather worked on the Manhattan Project. He worked at the Hanford Site. It was only after the first atomic bomb had dropped, when they got the newspapers announcing what had happened in Hiroshima, that he realized what he had been working on.
    07:18 BERT HANSEN: I’m a historian of science, science and medicine, but I’m interested in how the discoveries of science and medicine have been received.
    08:26 MICHAL MEYER: We’re talking about telling true stories, history through words and images. What makes joining words and images, creating visual media, what makes that such a powerful tool in telling history?
    08:44 BERT HANSEN: Well in the comic books, in this Pasteur story we’ll see that the drawings are simple, but this artist has taken a lot of liberties.
    10:23 MICHAL MEYER: So why did people at the time think it was important to tell stories about Pasteur through this approach?
    10:31 BERT HANSEN: Biographies were very popular in America from the 20s to the 50s. So it wasn’t just history of science and medicine.
    12:23 MICHAL MEYER: Jonathan, from your perspective, as an author rather than a reader, what makes this such a powerful storytelling tool for history?
    12:33 JONATHAN FETTER-VORM: It’s a great way to surprise people. One of the challenges of history is to present something that’s happened, with a forgone conclusion, in a way that’s going to surprise readers.
    14:20 MICHAL MEYER: You spoke also about showing the impossible in some ways, that what you can’t get from pictures, which perhaps are more static, you can bring alive.
    15:05 JONATHAN FETTER-VORM: I tried to make images that couldn’t be looked at.
    16:31 BOB KENWORTHY: Bert, as a historian, what other purposes are there for using visual media and what are some successful examples?
    16:40 BERT HANSEN: In my case it’s not so much about surprise, but about creating images that stick with us even if we read or go on.
    20:06 VIDEO: University of the Arts animation: “Real Fairy Folks”
    25:13 BOB KENWORTHY: As you create it you kind of have to make it your own, is there a process you use for owing the material you draw?
    25:25 JONATHAN FETTER-VORM: My goal was to make the science legible for people like myself and also for scientists, so they wouldn’t be horrified but what I’ve created.
    27:40 MICHAL MEYER: In the comics you study they seem to be much more straightforward.
    27:49 BERT HANSEN: They are. It’s an era and it was an audience that wasn’t looking for a lot of complexity. And it was a golden age of enthusiasm for science.
    32:45 BOB KENWORTHY: The readers of the 1940s and 50s, and the readers of 2014, are there differences?
    32:57 BERT HANSEN: They’re quite different. I wish I could get my students to slow down a little bit.
    34:42 VIDEO: University of the Arts animation: “An Alchemist in his Laboratory"
    43:25 MICHAL MEYER: I also wonder, in terms of you saying how difficult it is to tell stories now about science. Perhaps in 50 years time a narrative will become clear. Perhaps it’s only something you can do by looking back in time.
    44:15 MICHAL MEYER: So your book is nonfiction, but technically it’s a graphic novel. Is it that this is a new kind of genre? It seems like a silly question in a way, but I think it says something about the genre as a whole.
    48:37 BOB KENWORTHY: Let me ask both of you to forecast the future, where do you think this medium is going for the future?
    50:32 MICHAL MEYER: I have a question about responsibility, when it comes to history there’s always the question about treating history with respect while telling a good story.
    55:06 MICHAL MEYER: Have you had any responses from audience and readers, in terms of what their takeaway was?

    # vimeo.com/84991297 Uploaded 370 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Our May webcast takes on the frothy subject of beer, and explores the science, culture, and history behind the suds.

    "Intoxication and Civilization: Beer's Ancient Past" features beer and wine archaeologist Patrick E. McGovern and chemist Roger Barth.

    Our guests discuss the science behind beer, how modern craft breweries can help us understand ancient beers, and how technology has allowed us to drink like an ancient king. They also discuss the spiritual side of beer and the role beer has played in human evolution.

    Patrick E. McGovern is the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. He studies and writes about ancient beverages and drinks their modern incarnations. He is the author of Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and other Alcoholic Beverages.

    Roger Barth is a chemistry professor at West Chester University and author of The Chemistry of Beer: The Science in the Suds. He also makes his own beer.

    TIME STAMPS:

    03:02 INTRODUCTION

    05:02 BOB KENWORTHY: You’re both scientists and beer connoisuers, tell us how you became interested in beer.

    08:18 MICHAL MEYER: Pat, can you take us back to the beginning of beer? How did it start?

    10:04 BOB KENWORTHY: Would you assert that animal behavior and the study of animal behavior can lead us to an understanding of the human desire for intoxication?

    12:00 MICHAL MEYER: I want to start looking at the cultural side of beer. How does beer fit into the scheme of human cultural and social evolution?

    17:38 MICHAL MEYER: It seems as though we have a double relationship with alcohol, it can be a social lubricant but it can also be a threat.

    23:24 SHOW & TELL and CHEMISTRY DEMO: Patrick E. McGovern shares artifact replicas and Roger Barth demonstrates how a hydrometer works.

    41:50 BOB KENWORTHY: It seems to me that brewers were early adopters of technology. Was beer the essential ingredient to making humans chemists?

    44:14 VIDEO: Behind the scenes at Dogfish Head Brewery.

    47:10 TWITTER QUESTION: Was long-term storage of beer a problem for ancient civilizations?

    49:31 TWITTER QUESTION: How is non-alcoholic beer made and what percentage of alcohol is in it?

    54:07 MICHAL MEYER: Talking about taste, you’ve recreated this ancient beer. What does it actually taste like? What flavors can you find in it?

    56:10 MICHAL MEYER: I have a book in front of me, by Friedrich Accum, and he published this in 1820, it’s a treatise on adulteration on food. His section on beer is quite horrifying considering the kinds of things that were put into beer at that time, like opium.

    59:05 BOB KENWORTHY: Michal mentioned Pico-Toxins, that are listed as performance enhancing drugs.

    1:02:12 OUTRO

    # vimeo.com/96633918 Uploaded 444 Plays 0 Comments
  3. Our latest webcast explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters, and the conservationists who save paintings from the ravages of time and accidental chemistry.

    "Alchemy's Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation" features art conservator Mark F. Bockrath and art historian and CHF fellow Elisabeth Berry Drago.

    Our guests discuss and show the messy and occasionally dangerous process of making paints from pigments and the transition to using paints from tubes. They explain how conservators preserve paintings and why alchemists were so important to painters in early modern times.

    TIME STAMPS:

    00:56 Introduction

    02:07 VIDEO: Painting like it’s 1699

    08:14 MICHAL MEYER: What is the history of pigments? When are they first used?

    09:34 BOB KENWORTHY: What does an artist look for in a pigment?

    11:44 BOB KENWORTHY: You mention van Dyck brown, that got that name because of the artist. Are there pigments named for other artists?

    12:30 MICHAL MEYER: I’ve heard of a pigment called Mummy Brown. Can you tell me more?

    13:58 MICHAL MEYER: Did different painters have preferences as to which pigments they used?

    16:43 BOB KENWORTHY: The brilliant colors like arsenic and antimony have more to them than color. They’re a little toxic.

    22:40 VIDEO: XRF scanning of CHF paintings

    24:18 TWITTER QUESTION: how affordable were pigments in early modern times?

    26:28 BOB KENWORTHY: We have alchemy in the title of this show, what’s the connection?

    29:50 BOB KENWORTHY: So, Lisa, walk us through the process. You’re an artist, what would you do if you’re collecting your pigments, what do you mix, what do you not mix?

    34:11 BOB KENWORTHY: As a conservator you have to know the timeline and history to know how an artist constructed a painting.

    34:40 LIVE DEMONSTRATION: Elisabeth Berry Drago mixes pigments

    38:51 TWITTER QUESTION: How much was known about UV light dulling colors and what was done to prevent it, if anything?

    41:35 MICHAL MEYER: It seems as though painting has turned from a craft to a science. Can you walk us through that history?

    46:24 MICHAL MEYER: Mark, you’re a conservator, what kind of things do you need to be aware of in these paintings from different time periods?

    49:46 TWITTER QUESTION: How does a type of oil used affect the paint?

    52:00 MICHAL MEYER: How do conservators make sure that our art history doesn’t crumble?

    55:05 MICHAL MEYER: It sounds like you can also use conservation to help define a painter.

    56:08 BOB KENWORTHY: The movie Monuments Men came out earlier this year and it represents a popular culture presentation of popular culture. How does popular culture represent conservation?

    58:08 TWITTER QUESTION: Which pigments are the most resilient?

    # vimeo.com/92286798 Uploaded 128 Plays 0 Comments
  4. On November 20, 2013, two weeks after the FDA's proposal to ban trans fats, CHF aired #HistChem Episode 4: “Why the Chicken Became a Nugget and Other Tales of Processed Food.” Our guests were David Schleifer and Bryant Simon.

    Schleifer is a senior research associate at Public Agenda in New York. He researches health care, food, science, and technology. He is writing a book proposal based on his dissertation, “What Happened to Trans Fats?”

    Simon is the author of "Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks" and "Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America." He is now working on a broad ranging study of the high costs of cheap food.

    Learn more at chemheritage.org/media

    CLICK THE TIME STAMPS BELOW TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE HOSTS' QUESTIONS AND TO HEAR THE GUESTS' ANSWERS.

    00:35 MICHAL MEYER: Welcome to #HistChem, a history show that helps us understand the science and technology world we live in. I’m Michal Meyer, a historian of science and editor of Chemical Heritage Magazine here at CHF.

    00:49 BOB KENWORTHY: And I’m Bob Kenworthy. I’m a chemist, and I also work here at CHF. Our show today is called, "Why the Chicken Became a Nugget and Other Tales of Processed Food" and our guests are Bryant Simon and David Schleifer.

    01:46 MICHAL MEYER: But before we get into the discussion let's start with a taste of processed food.

    01:52 VIDEO: "Afternoon Snack" a video about Tastykakes, starring Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy.

    05:16 MICHAL MEYER: So trans fats have hit the news again recently, with the FDA's proposal to ban it--

    05:24 VIDEO: NEWS MONTAGE -- FDA proposes to ban trans fats

    05:39 MICHAL MEYER: I want to start off with the big picture, what is processed food and when did we start eating it?

    06:07 BRYANT SIMON: I think that would be the common answer to look at processed food as a post-World War Two development, but that would erase a lot of history. There's almost no time when people didn't try to preserve food.

    07:37 DAVID SCHLEIFER: If you look back at ancient Roman history you'd find the amphora that were used to store olive oil and olives.

    09:02 BOB KENWORTHY: I want to have you talk about the chemistry in processed food.

    12:11 MICHAL MEYER: We seem to be eating more and more processed food. Is that what people really want?

    14:02 BRYANT SIMON: We have more food with less nutrition in it.

    15:42 BRYANT SIMON: Kids are asked where do chicken nuggets come from and the answer is the supermarket.

    16:16 MICHAL MEYER: So who's to blame if anyone is to blame?

    21:10 BRYANT SIMON: It's easy to pile on Congress right now, but Congress is to blame by perpetuating subsidies for corn.

    24:36 BOB KENWORTHY: Bryant you mentioned the surplus of corn and that leads us right to corn syrup.

    25:07 BRYANT SIMON: It's an artificially cheap sweetener because it's subsidized. It makes other foods look artificially expensive.

    25:47 MICHAL MEYER: I want to move us back to the chicken nuggets again, how does a chicken nugget get made?

    26:27 BRYANT SIMON: They developed a system to blow the chicken off the bone.

    28:16 MICHAL MEYER: We'll take a short break to watch a video on a much-loved food called Jell-O.

    28:28 VIDEO: Kitchen Chemistry: Jell-O

    32:02 MICHAL MEYER: I process food at home. I make my own olives. What is the difference between the food I make at home and processed food on an industrial level?

    32:28 BRYANT SIMON: Scale is a big thing.

    33:24 DAVID SCHLEIFER: I would also add safety, so if you screw something up and there's a little big of mold you're fine, but if you're a big company you're opened up to a big lawsuit.

    35:20 MICHAL MEYER: I notice we have another Twitter question, "Are extreme foods an example of consumer demand or marketing?"

    35:34 BRYANT SIMON: I think some people use extreme foods for further processed foods like the Dorito.

    36:37 DAVID SCHLEIFER: There are actually artificial mouths for doing food research to see how food hits your tongue. They record the crunch and the swirls of saliva in your mouth.

    38:50 BOB KENWORTHY: When did we start worrying about health?

    38:54 DAVID SCHLEIFER: There's really no time that people didn't worry about healthy food.

    40:20 BOB KENWORTHY: Is there a 20th century accelerator?

    41:00 BRYANT SIMON: Industrial food has gone so far and created what some people call an obesity epidemic. We've begun to see a class divide where the poorer you are the less healthy food you eat.

    43:14 MICHAL MEYER: I'd like to get back into trans fats, now that the FDA is talking about banning it. How did trans fats become a health issue? They started as healthy and became unhealthy.

    51:15 BOB KENWORTHY: How did the chicken nugget become a health issue?

    53:06 MICHAL MEYER: In some way they both sound like success stories. What's the big picture?

    56:01 BRYANT SIMON: I think we need more transparent labeling.

    # vimeo.com/80814817 Uploaded 3,376 Plays 0 Comments
  5. On October 9, 2013, CHF aired #HistChem Episode 3, “Digging Up the Bodies: Debunking CSI and Other Forensics Myths.” Guests were Anna Dhody, a physical and forensic anthropologist, and Lisa Rosner, a historian. They discussed forensics past and present and the chemistry that happens to the human body.

    The discussion examined the “CSI effect,” which is caused by the simplification of forensics in popular culture. CSI and likeminded TV shows–with their heroic investigators solving crimes in mere minutes–mislead viewers and affect real court cases. The reality of investigation is much slower and more complex, but no less fascinating.

    Learn more at chemheritage.org/media

    CLICK THE TIME STAMPS BELOW TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE HOSTS' QUESTIONS AND TO HEAR THE GUESTS' ANSWERS.

    00:38 MICHAL MEYER: Welcome to #HistChem, a history show that helps us understand the science and technology world we live in. I’m Michal Meyer, a historian of science and editor of Chemical Heritage Magazine here at CHF.

    00:54 BOB KENWORTHY: And I’m Bob Kenworthy. I’m a chemist, and also on staff here at CHF. Our show today is “Digging Up the Bodies: Debunking CSI and other Forensics Myths.” Our guests today are Lisa Rosner, a historian, and physical and forensic anthropologist, Anna Dhody.

    02:39 MICHAL MEYER: So how did you get involved with forensics?

    02:43 LISA ROSNER: I actually started life as a very sober minded historian of medicine … You can’t get much more below than going to cadavers, and crimes. Six feet below, I guess you could say. So that just became something that fascinated me and that I investigated.

    03:44 MICHAL MEYER: Anna, how did you start "digging up the bodies," as it were?

    03:49 ANNA DHODY: Well, if you ask my mother, it started when I was seven years old and autopsied my Barbie doll. I think that was the beginning of my fascination with the human body.

    05:25 BOB KENWORTHY: I’m the chemist here, and I want to know about chemistry of the body. So, what does chemistry teach us about bodies?

    06:52 ANNA DHODY: For instance, at the Mutter Museum we have the Soap Lady. And she was preserved by saponification.

    10:11 MICHAL MEYER: Let's talk about the origins of forensic science.

    12:40 ANNA DHODY: Around 1910 there was a scientist named Locard who came up with Locard’s Principle of Transference which we still talk about and use today.

    15:36 BOB KENWORTHY: I look at that kind of work and I wonder if you can tell us about the high and low points of your career.

    19:28 MICHAL MEYER: Well let’s go back a little bit further in the past where issues of social justice don’t play such a big role. I want to go back to your book The Anatomy Murders, which is about some truly spectacular crimes and lots of skullduggery.

    23:14 MICHAL MEYER: Who were the characters [in the Burke and Hare case]?

    27:58 MICHAL MEYER: And they managed to get Burke and Hare?

    30:03 LISA ROSNER: That’s one of the things about forensic science, it’s not just whether it can convey certainty to, let’s say, the criminal justice system. It has to convey certainty to the jury as well.

    30:18 BOB KENWORTHY: Where there’s a body, there’s a crime. Is that pretty much the mantra of forensic science?

    31:33 BOB KENWORTHY: How do you reconstruct a crime?

    33:33 VIDEO: Behind the Scenes at the Mutter Museum

    35:34 BOB KENWORTHY: Forensics has become part of popular culture these days with Crime Scene Investigation or CSI television shows and I’d like to turn that to Anna. There’s something called the “CSI effect” in real forensic science. How do you react to that?

    38:55 BOB KENWORTHY: Was there a CSI effect in the 19th century?

    41:24 MICHAL MEYER: Assume just for a moment that I am a criminal. What kind of evidence would I most not want to leave behind?

    43:23 MICHAL MEYER: Let's focus on the topic of skulls for a moment ...

    48:09 MICHAL MEYER: I have a [Twitter] question from someone asking if you have ever served as an expert in front of a jury.

    49:29 IMAGE: New York Times Magazine centerfold image of a 1927 physics conference with only one women in the picture.

    52:01 MICHAL MEYER: What do you want people to know about your work?

    # vimeo.com/76779893 Uploaded 379 Plays 0 Comments

#HistChem Interactive Webcasts

Jeffery Guin

In 2013, as part of my work managing digital initiatives at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, I created a livestreamed program titled #HistChem to establish a deeper dialog with CHF's audiences around topics related to history, science…


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In 2013, as part of my work managing digital initiatives at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, I created a livestreamed program titled #HistChem to establish a deeper dialog with CHF's audiences around topics related to history, science and culture.

Among the program's objectives:
• Make the institution accessible by featuring its people
• Unify traditional & social media platforms
• Spark compelling conversations about History & SciTech
• Track effectiveness through metrics & social curation tools

View the evaluation report on approaches, processes and outcomes at this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/232511146/Program-Report-Livestreaming-Engagement-Model-for-Cultural-Heritage

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