The Disappearing Spoon is Distillations’ sister podcast, hosted by best-selling author Sam Kean. The show examines overlooked stories from our past, such as the dental superiority of hunter-gatherers, the sex lives of dinosaurs, and many more moments that never made the history books. When the footnote becomes the real story, small moments become surprisingly powerful.
Discover why the iconic physicist made an unbelievable error while hunting down criminals, and how you can avoid the same dumb mistake.
How cataracts nearly ruined the impressionist painter’s career—and then revived it by giving him an insect-like superpower.
Learn how an obsession with crustaceans guided the naturalist toward his most consequential insights.
An interview with Sam Kean about his book ‘The Violinist’s Thumb.’
How a simple operation—castrating little boys—produced the greatest singers the world has ever known.
How a bloody gun duel between two doctors in Transylvania sparked a frenzy of outrage—and helped create the American Medical Association.
How a feisty, suicidal Nobel laureate infuriated both Hitler and Stalin, and stalled cancer research for 50 years along the way.
In a building full of dead bodies, how can you tell a murder victim from an unlucky stiff?
The world’s first plastic made Hollywood possible—and killed thousands of people along the way.
How a steam-powered automobile in 1869 snuffed out the life of the brilliant naturalist and astronomer Mary Ward.
What a bizarre psychological disorder can teach us about memory, human nature, and our sense of who we are.
Scientists know how other animals’ bodies will change in warmer climates, but how will human beings respond?
The life of chimney sweeps was nasty, poor, brutish, filthy dirty, and usually short, thanks to a rare cancer of the genitals.
The long, wacky, and surprisingly thought-provoking history of trying animals in human courts.
How early anatomists provoked some of the strangest riots in history by stealing the dead bodies of the poor.
How a rogue archaeologist in Peru found indisputable evidence of something previously unthinkable—ancient neurosurgery.
How an early 20th-century doctor pitted one scourge (malaria) against another (syphilis).
How greed—and a group of Nazi prisoners—killed off one of the most iconic birds in American history: the ivory-billed woodpecker.