Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric

Arts & Culture

Science connects with the arts and popular culture

Collage with multiple color components, man in uniform, and spectrochrome
Health & Medicine

Can Color Heal Us?

For centuries people have been fascinated by the potential healing powers of color, but is there any truth to it?

Arts & Culture

The Word for Blue

From Homer’s Odyssey to the internet’s great dress debate, our perception of the color blue has both fascinated and frustrated us.

Collage illustration showing clip of Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus, botanical illustration, crop of a cave.
Arts & Culture

Origin Stories

The surprising scientific and religious origins of the myth of race.

Image of a woman holding fire in her hands, standing in front of a man.
Arts & Culture

What the All Souls Trilogy Teaches Us about Alchemy, Family, and Knowledge Hierarchy

‘Distillations’ talks to four science fantasy experts about the Deborah Harkness book series.

Three panels illustrating historical figures in a video game.
Arts & Culture

Interview with Jeremiah McCall

This bonus episode explores how a grade school history teacher from Cincinnati uses video games in the classroom.

Illustration from the video game Assassin's Creed
Arts & Culture

Learning History with Video Games

Are historical video games an important tool for learning or do they corrupt our collective understanding of the past?

Arts & Culture

Ladies Talking to Ladies about Ladies (in Science)

The ‘Lady Science’ magazine editors talk about their new book ‘Forces of Nature: The Women Who Changed Science.’

Photograph of Colin Dickey.
Arts & Culture

Bonus Episode: Interview with Colin Dickey

The ‘Ghostland’ author talks about the relationship between technology and the paranormal and how the ghost stories we tell reveal a lot about society.

Lithograph after a daguerreotype of Margaret, Catherine, and Leah Fox, three spiritualists in the mid 19th-century.
Arts & Culture

Ghost Hunting in the 19th Century

Though science and investigations of the paranormal might seem incompatible, they were intertwined for a long time.

Illustration of a tableau of injected vessels and infant skeletons by Frederick Ruysch.
Arts & Culture

Collecting Monstrosity

The surprising origins of developmental embryology.

"Mr. Wizard" does an experiment with two children watching.
Arts & Culture

Science on TV: An Interview with Ingrid Ockert

Historian of science and media Ingrid Ockert discusses the exact moment Carl Sagan began wearing turtlenecks, how NOVA changed television, and the key to any successful show: respect the audience.

Vintage illustration of a man sitting in chair watching a 1950s TV. He has a bucket of beers next to him. A woman is closer to the TV in another chair. Her shoes are off. They are both staring at the image of the TV which appears to be a picture that takes up the whole wall.
Arts & Culture

Sci-Fi Radio Drama

A cautionary tale of technology run riot.

Painting of a toddler dressed in a white nightgown with a red cap holding a kitten while an old woman in a long skirt and blouse gestured kindly at her. The old woman is seated and there is another cat walking around what appears to be a old cottage kitchen.
Arts & Culture

Grandmothers Matter

Some surprisingly controversial theories of human longevity.

Photograph of the arms of two men. One has a panther tattoo and the other has a scar in the shape of an animal. It looks like a tattoo that has been removed.
Arts & Culture

Rethinking Ink

Lasers, tattoo removal, and second chances.

A vintage ad for deodorant called Mum Cream. It features a woman crying and hiding her face while a man looks over at her, frowning. The ad copy focuses on how the deodorant stops perspiration.
Arts & Culture

The Smell of Shame

How deodorant became omnipresent in America.

Old illustration of a woman making tortillas with tools and handwritten notes.
Arts & Culture

The Ancient Chemistry Inside Your Taco

Dive into the world of nixtamalization, a chemical process that allowed the Mesoamerican empires to thrive and tacos to taste good.

Black and white photograph of men in suits sitting around table holding beers with two barrels in front. Writing on photo says "Nice to have been waited on."
Arts & Culture

Intoxication and Civilization: Beer’s Ancient Past

This episode takes on the frothy subject of beer, and explores the science, culture, and history behind the suds.

Photo of the Olympic rings with the sky in the background
Arts & Culture


On today’s show, we investigate Olympic mysteries, from the flame of the torch to the composition of those so-called gold medals.