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.

illustration of alchemists
Early Science & Alchemy

Dr. Butler and the Quest for the Philosophers’ Stone

How searching for alchemy’s secrets helped create modern science.

Health & Medicine

Quacks, Plagues, and Pandemics

What charlatans of the past can teach us about the COVID-19 crisis.

Inventions & Discoveries

Bob Gore’s Cozy Revolution

Gore-Tex changed the way Americans went outside.

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.

print of a Goya etchingq
Inventions & Discoveries

How the Elements Got Their Names

Wicked creatures and a defiant chemist make their mark on the periodic table.

People & Politics

How History Keeps Ignoring James Barry

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

Inventions & Discoveries

The Undying Appeal of Nikola Tesla’s “Death Ray”

Despite a lack of evidence, many have been captivated by the electrical whiz’s most mysterious project.

Cartoon of mechanic getting electricuted
Arts & Culture

Comics: Old-School Distance-Learning Tools

How the often-maligned genre was used to train soldiers, explain the weather, and describe the modern world.

Health & Medicine

Joseph Goldberger’s Filth Parties

A crusading doctor’s stomach-churning efforts to beat back pellagra in the American South.

Health & Medicine

Stress Baking and the Comfort of Connection

Baking homemade bread anchors us to millennia-long traditions.


The Sun Queen and the Skeptic: Building the World’s First Solar Houses

In the mid-20th century, colleagues-turned-rivals Maria Telkes and Hoyt Hottel engineered new ways of heating American homes.

Arts & Culture

A Silent, Savage Menace: Reassessing “Panic in the Streets”

Elia Kazan’s 1950 film noir finds new relevance in a moment gripped by pandemic and social unrest.

Early Science & Alchemy

Would a Book Lie?

The clues that betray a book’s disreputable past.

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.

Health & Medicine

Hashime Murayama and the Art of Saving Lives

A wildlife painter who ran afoul of xenophobic authorities during World War II found refuge and renewed purpose in the lab.

Arts & Culture

The Inventions That Made Us Who We Are

Anissa Ramirez’s latest book tracks the (sometimes literal) ways technology can shape our lives.

Inventions & Discoveries

Reginald Fessenden and the Invention of Sonar

How a radio pioneer transformed life at sea.

Health & Medicine

The Nurse Who Introduced Gloves to the Operating Room

Caroline Hampton and the forgotten origins of the first personal protective equipment.