Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Environment

Our impact on the natural and built worlds

Environment

Harry versus the Volcano

Foul-mouthed, heavy-drinking eccentric Harry R. Truman became a folk hero for refusing to evacuate his home in the months before Mount St. Helens erupted. Where did he go once it did?

Environment

Nor Any Drop to Drink

Drought drove American pursuit of desalination in the mid-20th century. Now a changing climate has compelled nations around the world to embrace the double-eged technology.

Environment

The Folly of the Martian Back-Up Plan

Why resources spent building a colony on the red planet would be a waste of money.

letter from Eleanor Roosevelt
Environment

Water Fit for a King

Eleanor Roosevelt thanks a chemical engineering firm in Philadelphia for manufacturing water for the king and queen of England on their visit to America.

Environment

If You Smell Something, Say Something

City dwellers of the 19th century were dogged by a foul terror: miasma.

Environment

Styrofoam, a Practical and Problematic Creation

The good and bad of an everlasting invention.

Environment

Tummy Trouble

To slow global warming scientists have tried schemes both simple and bizarre to bottle up cow burps.

Environment

Concrete Solutions

Making eco-friendly cement is easy; the hard part comes later.

Environment

Greetings from Isotopia

Why would anyone visit a radioactive ghost town or the remnants of a nuclear reactor?

Environment

Beyond Silent Spring: An Alternate History of DDT

Our histories of the infamous chemical often conflict with the facts.

Environment

Can Biotech Save the Rhino?

Or will it speed the animal’s demise?

Environment

The Flavor of Smog

In the 1940s two chemists joined forces to fight Los Angeles’s stinky, stinging air.

Environment

Imagining a Postcarbon Future

How do we think about a world that doesn’t yet exist?

Environment

Future Calculations

Was Svante Arrhenius the first climate change believer?

Gowanus Canal
Environment

CSI: Gowanus—Cleaning up the Canal

Take a trip down Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal with cartographer and citizen scientist Eymund Diegel.

view of the side of a white trailer
Environment

Where Have All the Trailers Gone?

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita displaced more than a million people in 2005, many of whom turned to trailers provided by FEMA. But it soon became apparent that these trailers were making people sick.

A dog sticks its head in a toilet
Environment

Waste Not, Want Not

Is recycled wastewater too much to swallow?

Environment

The Gowanus Canal

The fight for Brooklyn’s coolest Superfund site.