The Distillations blog is the place for regular updates from the intersections of science, culture, and history.
After the Vietnam War a mysterious yellow substance rained down from the skies of Southeast Asia. Was it a chemical weapon or something stranger?
Do cats mess with your brain?
Eschewing tradition, some instrument makers are redefining what a violin, viola, or cello is.
What it means to be the chief curiosity correspondent at the Field Museum in Chicago.
How John Dalton’s early atomic theory led to the Science History Institute’s new logo.
The story behind a rare work in our collection by the father of the periodic table.
Too much coffee actually can kill you, but that’s not the most important thing about the chemistry of coffee.
How fiction helps science intersect with culture.
About half of the 1,100 instruments hand-crafted by the famous Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari were lost or destroyed over the last 300 years. Should the instruments that remain be played or preserved?
A memento reveals how the demand for cheap copies of famous paintings helped democratize art ownership in the 19th century.
Philadelphia’s 2017 Geek of the Year on using virtual reality in resuscitation science research.
Many tragic accidents have provided unexpectedly valuable information for scientists.
Author Laurie Wallmark on Ada Lovelace.
Using oral history to write a historical narrative in an audio tour.
How conservators at the 9/11 Memorial Museum care for the artifacts of trauma.
Scientists with disabilities have frequently faced intolerance and prejudice in their careers. A new project at the Institute’s Center for Oral History seeks to tell their stories.
In trying to separate fact from fiction, writer Natalie Jacewicz gets caught up in a century-old, pseudoscientific web of lies and false hope.
How science fiction has influenced the lives and work of many STEM professionals.
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.
In the 1950s, a devious oil company created a television show to flatter industrialists and win their business.