Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

People & Politics

Science in a world of rules, regulations, and war

People & Politics

Escape from Nazi Terror

Chemist Max Bredig’s race to save family and friends from catastrophe.

People & Politics

Leo Alexander’s Unflinching Pursuit

In the waning days of World War II, a psychiatrist raced across Germany to uncover the harrowing abuses of Nazi doctors.

People & Politics

How History Keeps Ignoring James Barry

After 150 years of scrutiny, scholars still misrepresent the British doctor’s life and gender.

Woman at lab with instrument
People & Politics

A Seat at the Table

A recent collection showcases the famous and not-so-famous women who have left their mark on the periodic table.

People & Politics

The Dual Legacies of Henry Moseley

After transforming the periodic table should the promising young scientist have been allowed to fight in World War I?

Color map of Soviet- and Western-controlled countries
People & Politics

Spying in Plain Sight: Scientific Diplomacy during the Cold War

The covert politics behind American efforts to establish scientific freedom around the world.

People & Politics

Choosing a Better High-Tech Future

Rare earth elements make modern devices faster, brighter, and lighter, but it will take the creaky gears of government to make their production cleaner and more equitable.

People & Politics

The Transfermium Wars: Scientific Brawling and Name-Calling during the Cold War

The transfermium elements—the fleeting, lab-made substances that populate the end of the periodic table—have a history built on pride and acrimony.

People & Politics

How the First American Science Writer Found (Then Lost) God in the Cosmic Ray

In the 1930s a pride- and faith-fueled dispute between two Nobel Prize–winning physicists spilled onto the front page of the New York Times.

People & Politics

Hunting the Nazi Nuclear Hoard

In the last years of World War II a group of American scientists and soldiers raced to capture enemy physicists, sabotage Hitler’s nuclear ambitions, and do it all before their Soviet allies were any the wiser.

People & Politics

San Francisco’s Plague Years

As officials spread disinformation, a deadly epidemic edged its way into the United States.

People & Politics

Harvey Wiley’s Fierce Pursuit of Food Safety

Science writer Deborah Blum chronicles one chemist’s fight to bring order to a lawless food industry.

People & Politics

Ronald Fisher, a Bad Cup of Tea, and the Birth of Modern Statistics

A lesson in humility begets a scientific revolution.

Workers lined up for a group photo
People & Politics

Disability and the Myth of the Independent Scientist

Movies and television shows like to portray scientists as lone geniuses. But scientists with disabilities know the reality is much more complex.

Photo illustration with main image being man in hat and handcuff, surrounded by other portraits and illustrations
People & Politics

Harry Gold: Spy in the Lab

How did a Philadelphia chemist wind up a Soviet spy?

illustration of William and Caroline Herschel
People & Politics

Making Space for Women in Astronomy

For centuries women have been looking at the stars despite earthly obstacles.

black and white photo of pipes and fittings
People & Politics

Whose Knowledge Counts? Scientists with Cognitive Differences

Why emphasizing intellectual achievement and scientific “genius” harms scientists with intellectual disabilities—and the rest of us.

People & Politics

Baking Up a Storm

When crime and politics influenced American baking habits.