This week we delve into the world of experimenting on oneself.

Episode 41 | September 19, 2008

Episode 41: Self-Experimentation by Distillations Podcast

Many scientists have both knowingly and unknowingly used themselves as guinea pigs in the lab. Marie and Pierre Curie, discoverers of radium, are examples of the self-sacrificing scientist. We learn more about the Curies and others in this episode. Then we speak to Rebecca Herzig, a professor at Bates College in Maine and the author of Suffering for Science: Reason and Sacrifice in Modern America. And finally, we take a look at the latest trend at the pharmacy—home DNA test kits. Element of the Week: Radium.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:32 Introduction
01:23 Element of the Week: Radium
03:03 Conversation with Rebecca Herzig
08:04 Chemistry in your Cupboard: Home DNA Test Kits
10:51 Quote: Edwin Emory Slosson
11:14 Closing Credits

Resources and References

Learn more about radium on the Los Alamos National Labs Web site.

For more about suffering in the name of science, check out Herzig’s book.

Find out more about home DNA testing in this MSNBC article from May 2008.

For related reading, a Discover reporter had her DNA analyzed and tells her story here.


Special thanks go to Dominique Tobbell for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. Additional music is “Air And Wave Variation,” by School of Ambience, “Nitelife on Mars,” by Freaktet, and “Apple Chunk Guitar,” by AjT.