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Dan Snow's History Hit

Atoms and X-rays: Experiments That Changed History

For millennia, people have obsessed over questions about the nature of matter in our universe. Then, by the turn of the twentieth century, we believed we had answered everything. Our understanding of matter was finally complete. But an unprecedented outburst of scientific discovery was about to change the course of history...


Dr Suzie Sheehy is an accelerator physicist, academic and science communicator. Suzie joins Dan to introduce us to the people who staged ground-breaking experiments— from the serendipitous discovery of X-rays in a German lab to the race to split open the atomic nucleus, Suzie reminds us of the thrilling discoveries that have shaped our lives.


This episode was produced by Hannah Ward, the audio editor was Dougal Patmore.


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  • 1330. The Nazi Gold Train, Ball Lighting and Herculaneum Scrolls: History's Greatest Mysteries

    36:36
    In Dan's long career as a broadcaster, he's come across all sorts of unexplained phenomena, myths and mysteries- from searching for the Nazi Gold Train in Poland to debunking the mummy's curse in Tutankhamun's tomb. History is full of the weird and wonderful and in this episode Dan is joined by polymath, author and fellow podcaster Dan Schreiber to talk about stories of lost treasure, curious relics and Edwardian superstitions.You can read up on the things mentioned in this podcast, and more, in the History Hit Miscellany book available now online and in bookshops.For more tales on the curious, Dan Schreiber is the host of the We Can Be Weirdos podcast and the author of The Theory of Everything Else.Discover the past with exclusive history documentaries and ad-free podcasts presented by world-renowned historians from History Hit. Watch them on your smart TV or on the go with your mobile device. Get 50% off your first 3 months with code DANSNOW sign up now for your 14-day free trial We'd love to hear from you! You can email the podcast at ds.hh@historyhit.com.
  • 1329. Hades: King of the Underworld

    56:45
    This episode contains references to death and sexual assault.Hades is King of the the dead and the Underworld in Ancient Greek mythology. Dive into the shadowy underworld with host Tristan Hughes and guest Prof Sarah Iles Johnson of Ohio State University. Together, they unearth Hades' origin, define the enigmatic underworld, and what it reveals about Ancient Greek perceptions of life and beyond. Plus, delve into iconic myths like Orpheus & Eurydice, Achilles and the Trojan War and the Labours of Heracles.Senior Producer: Elena GuthrieAssistant Producer: Annie ColoeEditor: Aidan LonerganScriptwriter: Andrew HulseVoice Actor: Lucy DavidsonDiscover the past with exclusive history documentaries and ad-free podcasts presented by world-renowned historians from History Hit. Watch them on your smart TV or on the go with your mobile device. Get 50% off your first 3 months with code DANSNOW sign up now for your 14-day free trialWe'd love to hear from you! You can email the podcast at ds.hh@historyhit.com.You can take part in our listener survey here.
  • 1328. Rasputin

    22:17
    The legend of Rasputin's death goes that he survived poisoning, being shot in the head before being thrown through a hole in the ice in the Neva River, where he finally died by drowning. But Rasputin biographer Douglas Smith, Dan's guest today, says that isn't what happened. He's been to Russia to study the crime scene photos and the evidence and says things happened a little differently to the way the history is told...He joins Dan to dig into the life of Grigori Rasputin, the Siberian mystique whose charisma held the Romanov Tsar and Tsarina in a vice-like grip, securing his own influence over Russia's politics and church at the turn of the 20th century.Produced by James Hickmann and edited by Dougal PatmoreSign up to History Hit at historyhit.com/subscribe using code BLACKFRIDAYPOD at checkout, for $1/£1 per month for 4 months and you’ll get nearly £30 off our normal monthly price over your first 4 months.
  • 1327. A Short History of Blindness

    23:13
    From the famed poet Homer to King John of Bohemia, people without sight have always been prominent in our collective history. These figures have been heroised, demonised, and everything in between. The retelling of their lives indicates that blindness is typically seen as either an affliction to be 'fixed', or as a superpower; it has been given a mystical quality whereby a person can lose their vision, but gain wisdom.Dan is joined by Selina Mills, broadcaster and author of Life Unseen: A Story of Blindness, who explains how societies have responded throughout the ages to people who are blind.Produced by James Hickmann and Mariana Des Forges, and edited by Dougal Patmore.We'd love to hear from you! You can email the podcast at ds.hh@historyhit.com.You can take part in our listener survey here.
  • 1326. 4. Napoleon: The Myth

    39:01
    Napoleon has become more than a man. His name is a concept, a way of being, a psychological term- the 'Napoleon' complex. Napoleon began working on his legacy during his exile on St Helena in the last years of his life, his journal- memoir 'The Memorial of Saint Helena' was Napoleon's own personal and political testament and served as the founding text of the cult of Napoleon and the ideology of Bonapartism that grew after his death in 1821.In the final episode of the series, Dan is joined by historian and biographer Lord Andrew Roberts to unpack the mythology of Napoleon. They delve into his final days, his lifetime achievements and failures and the commentary he gave throughout; the letters he wrote to rulers and lovers, the fiction he wrote, the political and military treaties he created and they try to answer the question- was he really a great man?Produced by Mariana Des Forges, Freddy Chick and edited by Dougal Patmore.Don’t miss out on the best offer in history! Enjoy unlimited access to award-winning original documentaries that are released weekly and AD-FREE podcasts. Get a subscription for £1 for 3 months with code BLACKFRIDAYPOD and sign up now for your 14-day free trial https://historyhit/subscription/.We'd love to hear from you! You can email the podcast at ds.hh@historyhit.com.
  • 1325. 3. Napoleon: The Lover

    46:05
    CONTENT WARNING: This episode contains discussions about sex which may not be suitable for children.Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the few commanders in history to be known for his capacity as a fierce fighter and a passionate lover. His romance with Joséphine de Beauharnais is one of the greatest in history and we know the intimate details about it because of the hundreds of passionate letters he sent to her over the years, some more explicit than others... In episode 3 of Dan's Napoleon series, he's joined by sex historian and host of Betwixt the Sheets podcast Dr Kate Lister to explore another side of the French commander- his complex attitude towards sex, his obsession with Josephine and the way their relationship coloured his emotional life.Meanwhile, Josephine was an incredible figure in her own right; she was a courtesan to rich men - glamorous and intelligent with an elegant figure and magnetic aura. When she met Napoleon in 1795, she was older than him and having had a number of strategic affairs with influential political figures, clever in her means of securing a stable life for her two children. Ridley Scott's 'Napoleon' is in cinemas on November 22nd.Produced by Mariana Des Forges, Charlotte Long and edited by Dougal Patmore.Don’t miss out on the best offer in history! Enjoy unlimited access to award-winning original documentaries that are released weekly and AD-FREE podcasts. Get a subscription for £1 for 3 months with code BLACKFRIDAY sign up now for your 14-day free trial https://historyhit/subscription/.We'd love to hear from you! You can email the podcast at ds.hh@historyhit.com.You can take part in our listener survey here.
  • 1324. 2. Napoleon: The Commander

    43:14
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  • 1323. 1. Napoleon: The Early Years

    26:49
    He clawed his way to the zenith of power with a relentless determination that few could fathom... he conquered empires, destroyed armies and out of the smouldering rubble of the revolution made himself the Emperor of the French; his name was Napoleon Bonaparte.Was Napoleon destined for greatness, or was just in the right place at the right time? Well, Biographer Andrew Roberts, author of Napoleon the Great says its both. In the first episode of this four-part series, Andrew and Dan pick through Napoleon's years growing up on the island of Corsica to his military education in France that instilled in him the discipline, skills and spirit that made him a solitary and cerebral individual but a charismatic leader of men. They explore the impact of childhood bullying, his sexual awakening in the French Revolution and his early belief that he was destined to change the world.Produced by Mariana Des Forges, Freddy Chick and edited by Dougal Patmore.Discover the past with exclusive history documentaries and ad-free podcasts presented by world-renowned historians from History Hit. Watch them on your smart TV or on the go with your mobile device. Get 50% off your first 3 months with code DANSNOW - sign up now for your 14-day free trial http://access.historyhit.com/checkout?code=dansnow&plan=monthly.We'd love to hear from you! You can email the podcast at ds.hh@historyhit.com.You can take part in our listener survey here.
  • 1321. Habsburg Inbreeding with Dr. Adam Rutherford

    34:39
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