Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric

The Mothers of Gynecology

Why are Black women in America three times more likely to die during childbirth than White ones?


Distillations is the Science History Institute’s critically acclaimed flagship podcast. We take deep dives into stories that range from the serious to the eccentric, all to help listeners better understand our world. Hear about everything from the crisis in Alzheimer’s research to New England’s 19th-century vampire panic in compelling, sometimes-funny, documentary-style audio stories. Don’t miss the new season, dropping June 4, 2024.

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Health & Medicine

Exploring ‘Health Equity Tourism’

With a new public interest in health equity research, who is actually receiving recognition and funding in the field?

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Health & Medicine

Correcting Race

A group of medical students wants to take racial bias out of the equation.

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Health & Medicine

‘That Rotten Spot’

When the plague struck San Francisco in 1900, public health officials blamed Chinatown, as if the disease itself had a racial component.

Collage illustration showing pills and historical image of Europeans enslaving Africans.
Health & Medicine

Black Pills

If there’s no such thing as biological race, why would the FDA approve a drug just for Black patients?

Collage showing news clips about Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and photograph of patients.
Health & Medicine

Bad Blood, Bad Science

The word “Tuskegee” has become shorthand for the Black community’s mistrust of the medical establishment. But what really happened?

Collage illustration showing map of African Burial Ground in Manhattan, human skull illustration, man's face wearing mask, MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia.
People & Politics

The African Burial Ground

A seminal archaeology project proves it is possible to study human remains ethically.

Collage illustration showing map of African Burial Ground in Manhattan, illustration of human skull, man wearing a mask, and a photograph of the MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia
People & Politics

Return, Rebury, Repatriate

Anthropological museums were built on the bodies of marginalized, non-consenting people. Can they ever exist ethically?

Collage illustration showing news clippings about genetic research and indigenous groups.
Inventions & Discoveries

The ‘Vampire Project’

The population geneticists who led the Human Genome Diversity Project wanted to “hammer the final nail in the coffin of race,” but instead they wound up reaffirming it.

Collage illustration showing news clipping from Neo-Nazi publication, academic article about race science, and image of Barry Mehler and Philipe Rushton.
People & Politics

Keepers of the Flame

For decades, nearly all race science was funded by one man. His goal? To ensure the intellectual continuity of a dubious field.

Collage illustration showing portrait of Richard Allen, a mosquito, and image of yellow fever virus
Health & Medicine

Calamity in Philadelphia

When yellow fever struck the city in 1793, faulty race logic almost destroyed it.

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.



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

Vox's Unexplainable podcast logo: the word Unexplainable on a grid of black squares and white lines.
Health & Medicine

What Causes Alzheimer’s?

Vox’s ‘Unexplainable’ podcast interviews ‘Distillations’ about how Alzheimer’s research has stubbornly focused on a single theory for decades.

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.

Painting of Greek goddess Aurora, draped in fabric and holding the reins of a white horse, as she gazes at the mortal Tithonus.
Early Science & Alchemy

Chasing Immortality

Since humans have been living—and inevitably dying—we’ve also been trying to figure out how not to die. Or at least how to keep the party going a little longer.

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.

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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.’