Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric


Our impact on the natural and built worlds



Crushing, smashing, and grinding for the sake of greener science.

Black and white photograph of a man wearing a tie standing in a forest, surrounded by burnt logs.

Paradise Is Burning

Our approach to fighting wildfires is a fantasy—and it’s making them even more catastrophic.

Lithograph of a view of the Fairmount Water Works with the Schuylkill River in the distance, 1838.

How Philadelphia’s Water Pollution Problems Shaped the City

The way the city tackled its water pollution problems has made it an unexpected pioneer.  

Color illustration of a rare earths mine, with people looking distressed.

Rare Earths: The Hidden Cost to Their Magic

Rare earth elements are essential to modern life. Luckily the world has plenty of them; unfortunately, getting them out of the ground leaves behind massive environmental damage.

Black and white photograph of a boat on fire in a river and a small hose attempting to extinguish it.

The Myth of the Cuyahoga River Fire

The blaze that sparked the modern environmental movement . . . or did it?

Collage illustration of a cow, a fence, and a map.

High Steaks at the Border

When the United States and Mexico resolved their beef.

Collage illustration showing desalination technology and face of John F. Kennedy Jr.

Making the Deserts Bloom

Harnessing nature to deliver us from drought.

Woman irritated by smog in LA in the 1950s

Fighting Smog in Los Angeles

And how California’s car emission standards continue to influence the rest of the country.

Man walking in forest of fall leaves

Whatever Happened to Acid Rain?

It’s complicated.

A group of about 14 Adelie penguins on an iceberg in Antarctica

Whatever Happened to the Ozone Hole?

An environmental success story.

Image depicting a woman dancing with farm animals and fruits with the lyrics "DDT is good for me!"

DDT: The Britney Spears of Chemicals

We loved it. We hated it. Now we kind of maybe like it again.