Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Matchmaking in Colonial India

An inconspicuous technology sparks revolution on the subcontinent.


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

Black and white photo portrait of woman in uniform
People & Politics

Lou Henry Hoover, Lost in Translation

Though often celebrated, the adventurous First Lady never received full credit for her scientific accomplishments.

Black and white photo of man and woman in a lab
People & Politics

For the Sake of Science

Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner navigated a life of science through war and peace.

People & Politics

The High-Flying, Death-Defying Discovery of Helium

During the War of 1870, astronomer Jules Janssen risked his life for scientific prestige and French patriotism.

Health & Medicine

COVID-19 Health Passports: What’s Old Is New Again

To speed reopening, government and business leaders are pushing a modern version of a centuries-old idea.

People & Politics

Escape from Nazi Terror

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

Inventions & Discoveries

Charles Anderson Chases an Eclipse

A lucky streak sends a meteorologist on the flight of a lifetime.

Early Science & Alchemy

The Newton Mess

What a manuscript can tell us about an iconic scientist and the history we’ve built around him.

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.