Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Controversy, Control, and Cosmetics in Early Modern Italy

In a society that damned women for both plainness and adornment, wearing makeup became a defiant act of survival.


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

Arts & Culture

Duck and Cover: Science Journalism in the Digital Age

For decades science journalists peacefully worked their beat. But trouble came to their ostensibly objective world. How did science writers get caught in the crossfire of the culture wars?

Arts & Culture

Forensic Chemistry in Golden-Age Detective Fiction: Dorothy L. Sayers and the CSI Effect

The ancestors of today’s CSI shows can be found between the covers of 20th-century detective stories.

Arts & Culture

A World without Darwin

Would we understand our world differently if Charles Darwin had never written On the Origin of Species?

Health & Medicine

True Science, Fake History

Scientists are known to be dedicated to accuracy. But sometimes, as in the case of Francesco Redi, a sense of humor can lead one astray.

Detail from Secretioris naturae secretorum scrutinium chymicum, Michael Maier (1687)
Early Science & Alchemy

Gold, Secrecy, and Prestige

Did alchemists disappear from history, or did they just change their coats?

People & Politics

Atoms for Peace: The Mixed Legacy of Eisenhower’s Nuclear Gambit

Following World War II, President Dwight Eisenhower attempted a risky balancing act between war and peace, secrecy and transparency.

Early Science & Alchemy

Pumped Up

More than 350 years ago the very first air pump changed how science was done.

Early Science & Alchemy

Albertus Magnus, Mineralogy, and the Secrets of Women

What connects a founder of the Western model of university education to the secrets of women?

A Soviet propaganda poster translates as “Soviet man, be proud. You opened the road to the stars from Earth!” (russiatrek.org)

Sputnik Fever

How did the launch of Sputnik I in 1957 change the lives of two Americans?

black and white photo of a deceased man
Arts & Culture

A Good Death

Death Salon founder Megan Rosenbloom tells us what a good death means to her.

Eugene Pfizenmayer (left) excavating a mammoth carcass on the banks of the Berezovka River in Siberia, ca. 1901. (Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution)
Inventions & Discoveries

Mammoth Undertaking

Can scientists bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction? And should they?

People & Politics


Pity butter’s poor relative, margarine, which has shifted from outlaw to savior to villain in the space of 100 years.

Early Science & Alchemy

Cloth of the World

In Renaissance maps geography becomes an art form.

Inventions & Discoveries

Tiny Productions

Sometimes scientific discovery requires an unusual tool.

People & Politics

The Invisible Woman

Katharine Burr Blodgett was the first female scientist hired by General Electric. Her work was truly invisible, deliberately so.

Arts & Culture

Colors Run Riot

The rise of synthetic color and the scientists and designers who tried to save society from itself.

Arts & Culture

The Philosophers’ Stove

Fancy some alchemical recipes from 15th-century Italy?

Health & Medicine

Write for a Free Booklet: Howard Bishop’s Crusade to Decontaminate America

The man who wanted to make the United States a healthier place and the sometimes fuzzy line between science and quackery.