Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Fish Hacks

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


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

SmithKline & French Pharmaceuticals
Health & Medicine

Understanding Pharmaceutical Relations and the Limits of Regulatory Reform

Interactions between the pharmaceutical industry, the biomedical sciences, and legislators is a longstanding hot topic in Washington.

Health & Medicine

The Lingering Heat over Pasteurized Milk

The history of pasteurization and the controversy surrounding it demonstrate the complexity of milk as a chemical substance.

An early advertisement for cellophane
Inventions & Discoveries

Sealed with a Wrap

Cellophane celebrates its 100th anniversary with a comeback, after losing out to cheaper imitations in the 1970s.

Black and white photo of an award ceremony with group of people
People & Politics

Social Scientist

Assessing J. Robert Oppenheimer as a leader.

Inventions & Discoveries

Scientia Vitis: Decanting the Chemistry of Wine Flavor

Scientists have only recently begun to investigate the chemical components that give wines their distinct and complex flavors.

People & Politics

Christmas at Hanford

How 50,000 people tried to maintain a normal existence while living in isolation at the largest the Manhattan Project site.

Inventions & Discoveries

Science and Celebrity: Humphry Davy’s Rising Star

Part experimenter and part entertainer, Humphry Davy was a 19th-century icon.

Inventions & Discoveries

The First Century of Chemical Engineering

The founding of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers represented the beginning of American technological dominance in the 20th century.

Inventions & Discoveries

Nylon: A Revolution in Textiles

The invention of nylon in 1938 promised sleekness and practicality for women and soon ushered in a textile revolution for consumers and the military alike.

Health & Medicine

Not-So-Great Moments in Chemical Safety

Fatal results of the lax safety standards of yesterday provide powerful lessons in the importance of safety in today’s labs.

Health & Medicine

Medicalizing Menopause

The rise and fall of hormone replacement therapy.


The Greening of Chemistry

Innovations have reduced industry’s impact on human health and the environment while also saving companies money.

Inventions & Discoveries

From Nanotech to Nanoscience

Technologies using nanosized objects have been around for hundreds of years.

Health & Medicine

Powerful Effervescence

In the 18th century Joseph Priestley and others developed artificially carbonated mineral water, uniting the therapeutic powers of an ancient natural restorative with the emerging science of modern chemistry.

Inventions & Discoveries

John Dalton and the Scientific Method

Dalton proposed atomic theory in 1808; an additional century passed before the theory was universally accepted by scientists.

Inventions & Discoveries

Not Counting Chemistry: How We Misread the History of 20th-Century Science and Technology

Is chemistry’s ubiquity why we so rarely talk about its historical importance?

Early Science & Alchemy

Seek Knowledge as Far as China

Two books trace the history of Arabo-Islamic science during the European Middle Ages.

Arts & Culture

Revolutionary Instruments: Lavoisier’s Tools as Objets d’Art

In 1788 Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and Jacques-Louis David were introduced during a sitting for the illustrious scientist’s portrait.