Tools & Technology

Faking It

The truth behind the fake—this week Distillations explores the science of forgery. 

Episode 53 | December 12, 2008

Episode 53: Faking It by Distillations Podcast

The truth behind the fake—this week Distillations explores the science of forgery. Some forgery is known and expected, such as fake meat products for vegetarians, while other fakes are meant to deceive…think imitated artists. First we learn about cubic zirconia, which has long been used to pass for diamonds. Turns out CZ is an interesting stone in its own right! Next up is TVP, or textured vegetable protein. This Chemistry in your Cupboard tells us all about soy as a meat substitute. And finally, producer Rebecca Sheir visits the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and their Scientific Research Laboratory. While there Rebecca finds out how forgery in art can be detected. Element of the Week: Zirconium.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:32 Introduction
01:22 Element of the Week: Zirconium
03:36 Chemistry in your Cupboard: Soy as Sirloin
06:32 Feature: Detecting Forgery in Art
11:26 Closing Credits

Resources and References

Find out more about cubic zirconia on the Geology Rocks web site.

The Los Angeles Times ran an informative article, “Cubic’s Rubes,” on 18 December 1981.

We also found the January 2003 issue of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods quite helpful, with an entire section dedicated to Soy Solutions.


Special thanks go to Erin McLeary and Audra Wolfe for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. Additional music is “A Lot Like Diamonds,” by A Beautiful Curse, “blackbeans,” by Francisco Daum, and “detective double bass,” by lastfuture.