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.

Inventions & Discoveries

Greenbacks, Chits, and Scrip

Alternative currencies flourish in desperate times and situations.

Environment

Speaking to the Future

Nuclear waste remains dangerous for millennia, so how do we keep people in the distant future away from it?

Environment

The Simple Usefulness of the Secchi Disk

A centuries-old sailor’s hack enters the ecologist’s toolkit.

Environment

The Toll of the Road

Calculating the automobile’s grisly impact on wildlife.

illustration of a person with cholera
Health & Medicine

John Snow Hunts the Blue Death

In showing that cholera spreads through tainted water, an English doctor helped lay epidemiology’s foundations.

Environment

Stuck Inside

Space toilets and the lessons of living in closed environments.

Environment

River Gods, Lake Monsters, and the Abiding Power of Myth

How ancient (and not so ancient) cultures thought about water purity and contamination.

Impressionist painting of a lily pond
Arts & Culture

Could Claude Monet See Like a Bee?

A harrowing eye surgery may have given the impressionist painter the ability to see UV light.

Inventions & Discoveries

Matthew Carey Lea and the Origins of Mechanochemistry

A reclusive expert of 19th-century photography laid the foundation for green chemistry solutions emerging today.

Photo of mattress with spraypainted warning
Environment

A Perfect Glutton, Never Ceasing

With their creeping, bloodsucking ways, bedbugs continue to mock human superiority.

Environment

Ruth Patrick’s Lovely Creatures

The groundbreaking ecologist showed that the biological diversity within a stream can be used to diagnose its health.

illustration of a people making paper
Early Science & Alchemy

Chasing the Clues in Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts

The tricks and tools book sleuths use to date the undated.

Health & Medicine

Bacteriophages and the Fight Against Cholera in Cold War Afghanistan

Could a Soviet-era therapy offer a new defense against antibiotic-resistant superbugs?

Inventions & Discoveries

Darwin’s Barnacles

How an obsession with crustaceans guided the naturalist toward his most consequential insights.

Environment

How Two Outsider Scientists Saw Inside Climate Change

Eunice Foote and Guy Callendar showed the warming effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Arts & Culture

Fit to Be Dyed

The enduring appeal of tie-dye.

People & Politics

The Dark Stars of Marietta Blau

A scientist pitted hard work and ingenuity against the constraints she faced as a Jewish woman.

Photo of woman exiting building surrounded by news cameras
People & Politics

Why Did Annie Dookhan Lie?

Forensic science can be a powerful crime-fighting tool, but misdeeds, dubious methodologies, and bogus claims threaten its reputation—and the reputation of science as a whole.