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Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Everyday Monsoons

Washes and other gaps in the Sonoran Desert.

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Distillations articles reveal science’s powerful influence on our lives, past and present.

black and white photo of a seated man in a lab coat
Health & Medicine

Joe Hin Tjio Counts Chromosomes

A basic scientific error hid in plain sight for decades until an Indonesian geneticist spent Christmas break on a lab bender.

Roadside sculpture showing a skeleton man walking a skeleton dinosaur
Inventions & Discoveries

The Dinosaurs Died in Spring

Science that ushered in a new epoch also revealed stunning details from Earth’s distant past.

Woman inside ocean exploring suit in open air
Environment

Sylvia Earle and the Call of the Deep

Adventure and tangled interests under the sea.

Color illustration of a man and women in South Asian attire
Inventions & Discoveries

Matchmaking in Colonial India

An inconspicuous technology sparks revolution on the subcontinent.

Daguerreotype of old man in royal clothing with infant child
People & Politics

The Eclipse That Killed a King (and May Have Saved a Kingdom)

How the scientific prowess of King Mongkut of Siam helped stave off European incursion.

Drug packaging with label
Health & Medicine

Dreams and Nightmares

Oxycodone’s early years.

Black and white photo of girl with a cotton plant
Environment

Rings of Fire

Arsenic cycles through racism and empire in the Americas.

Color photo of two men in suits, one without a shirt, photographed walking in the dark
People & Politics

Valery Fabrikant and Science’s Ethical Limits

Is it right to publish research from an unrepentant murderer?

Engraving of young Victorian woman crouch at feet of seated older woman
Health & Medicine

How Notorious Abortionist Madame Restell Built a Drug Empire

Desperate women, mistreated by the 19th century’s medical establishment, risked black-market remedies and the wrath of Anthony Comstock’s moralizing thugs.

A boy cutting into the bark of tree
People & Politics

The Human Price of American Rubber

Segregated lives of privilege, pride, and peril on Firestone’s Liberian plantations.

Group of eleven older men posing with a large taxidermy fish
Environment

Fish Hacks

Often dismissed as a “trash fish,” the porgy anchors black maritime culture.

Ink and watercolor illustration of a modern surgical procedure
Health & Medicine

Prison Plastic Surgery

Can a new look unlock a new life?

Back of a 7 of spades card featuring witches riding broomsticks with golden birds
Health & Medicine

The Big Business of Wish Fulfillment

Essential oils have long straddled the lines between magic, medicine, and scam.

Hand drawn histology illustration of nerve cells
Inventions & Discoveries

A Cold Day in Stockholm

At the dawn of a new age in neuroscience, the rivalry between Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramón y Cajal reached an icy climax.
Black and white engraving of a man grafting a tree in front of a farmhouse
Environment

Forests of the Future

Modern agricultural practices are unsustainable. Is tree farming the answer?

Color photograph of a colorful bird
Environment

How to Display a Hoatzin

The Bronx Zoo’s strange obsession with an even stranger bird.

Satirical cartoon of Darwinism using a circus theme
People & Politics

The Case Against Charles Darwin

How the investigation into a grisly murder shocked 19th-century France and framed the scientist as an accomplice.

Magazine cover showing a man wearing a translucent illustration of a gas mask with the features of his face visible beneath
Inventions & Discoveries

Like Monstrosities from Another World

The gas mask’s grip on our collective consciousness.