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.

Lab mouse in red Harvard sweater/bowtie
Inventions & Discoveries

The Mouse That Changed Science

A tiny animal with a big story.

Photo illustration of poppy flowers and opioid addict
Health & Medicine

Treating America’s Opioid Addiction

Part 3: Searching for Meaning in Kensington.

Photo illustration of poppy flowers and meeting chairs
Health & Medicine

Treating America’s Opioid Addiction

Part 2: Synanon and the Tunnel Back to the Human Race.

Photo illustration of poppy flowers and prison-hospital for addicts
Health & Medicine

Treating America’s Opioid Addiction

Part 1: The Narcotic Farm and the Promise of Salvation.

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.

Black and white photograph of a young Gordon Gould looking down at a machine. He is wearing glasses and a white button down shirt.
Inventions & Discoveries

The Man, the Myth, the Laser

The disputed origin story of one of the 20th century’s most important inventions.

Image of a woman's legs. She is wearing red yoga pants and yellow sneakers. She is reclining on a couch. In the background is the blurred image of a city skyline.
Inventions & Discoveries

The Yoga Pant Problem

The rise of synthetic fibers and the war on cotton.

Cropped image of a letter in Lady Ranelagh's handwriting. There is slight discoloration and yellowing around where the paper was folded.
Early Science & Alchemy

The Almost Forgotten Story of Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh

The woman beside the father of chemistry.

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.

Vintage ad for margarine featuring a knife spreading margarine on one piece of bread out of the loaf. The ad copy talks about the benefits of margarine.
People & Politics

Butter vs. Margarine

One of America’s most bizarre food battles.

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.

Painting of a older man with a white beard standing in front of shelves of medicine. He appears to be wearing an early 20th century suit.
People & Politics

Refugee Doctors

Escape is only the first challenge.

A photo of a group of Amish men and women from the back. They are standing in a field.
Health & Medicine

High-Tech and Amish

Using 21st-century medicine to maintain a 300-year-old way of life.

Logo for the March for Science featuring one illustrated hand raised in a fist. It is red. the other hand is white and clenching a Erlenmeyer flask.
People & Politics

Political Science

Out of the lab and into the streets.

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.

Engraving of a robot in side profile with mouth slightly ajar. The robot's body is made up of cogs, pieces of wood, bits of chain and other tools.
Inventions & Discoveries

Making Senses

How biohackers are using artificial perceptions to enhance reality.