Distillations Blog

The Distillations blog is the place for regular updates from the intersections of science, culture, and history.

Panamanian postage stamp commemorating Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prize
What We’re Talking About
October 26, 2018

Science History Institute staff recommends articles and blog posts from around the web to add to your binge lists.

Roger Eadley-Pryor takes a guided kayak tour of the Schuylkill River led by Drexel chemistry professor Pete DeCarlo and University of Pennsylvania environmental humanities professor Bethany Wiggin.
Imagining a Way Forward
October 12, 2018

In a time of social, political, and environmental uncertainty, how do we imagine the future?

Plate No. 20 Poisonous Reptiles and Insects
What We’re Talking About
August 30, 2018

Science History Institute staff recommends articles and blog posts from around the web to add to your binge lists.

Helitrim trimming potentiometers on the moon
The Folly of the Martian Back-Up Plan
August 17, 2018

Why resources spent building a colony on the red planet would be a waste of money.

Book Club: Simultaneous Discovery and Darwin’s Ghosts
August 06, 2018

Does Darwin deserve the credit for the theory of evolution, knowing what we know now about his predecessors?

What We’re Talking About
July 20, 2018

Science History Institute staff recommends articles, videos, and blog posts from around the web to add to your summer binge lists.

WikiSpeaks: What It Means to Be a Wikipedian in Residence
July 06, 2018

Mary Mark Ockerbloom, the Science History Institute’s expert on all things Wikipedia, discusses the ways in which the site has changed and improved.

It’s Nothing New: Sexism in the Lab
June 22, 2018

Why the recent findings of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine are enlightening, even if they aren't surprising.

Book Club: Frankenstein in the 21st Century
May 18, 2018

Frankenstein was unleashed on the literary world 200 years ago, but its message still has relevance to everything from gene editing to Facebook.

The Mystery of Yellow Rain
April 13, 2018

After the Vietnam War a mysterious yellow substance rained down from the skies of Southeast Asia. Was it a chemical weapon or something stranger?

Cat Craze
March 23, 2018

Do cats mess with your brain?

Carleen Hutchins: Rogue Luthier
March 09, 2018

Eschewing tradition, some instrument makers are redefining what a violin, viola, or cello is.

Putting the Communication Back in Science Communication: An Interview with the Field Museum’s Emily Graslie
February 16, 2018

What it means to be the chief curiosity correspondent at the Field Museum in Chicago.

The Elements of Fiction
December 15, 2017

How fiction helps science intersect with culture.

The Appeal of Hot Air
August 04, 2017

In trying to separate fact from fiction, writer Natalie Jacewicz gets caught up in a century-old, pseudoscientific web of lies and false hope.

Science Fiction or Fictional Science?
July 21, 2017

How science fiction has influenced the lives and work of many STEM professionals.

How Drinking Beer Is in Our DNA: An Interview with Jessica Zinskie
June 30, 2017

An interest in the pharmacological nature of food led Jessica Zinskie, a postdoctoral researcher at Rowan University, to study the genetics of yeast and the evolution of beer.

Things Fall Apart: An Interview with Exhibition Curator Elisabeth Berry Drago
June 09, 2017

Exploring the science behind decay through the Institute’s new exhibition and Old City walking tour.

A Tear Gas Tale
May 26, 2017

How tear gas made the transition from wartime weapon to domestic police tool.

Going Viral
May 12, 2017

How do virologists stop something that is ubiquitous and deadly?