Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric

The Mothers of Gynecology

Why are Black women in America three times more likely to die during childbirth than White ones?


Distillations is the Science History Institute’s critically acclaimed flagship podcast. We take deep dives into stories that range from the serious to the eccentric, all to help listeners better understand our world. Hear about everything from the crisis in Alzheimer’s research to New England’s 19th-century vampire panic in compelling, sometimes-funny, documentary-style audio stories.

Photograph of Colin Dickey.
Arts & Culture

Bonus Episode: Interview with Colin Dickey

The ‘Ghostland’ author talks about the relationship between technology and the paranormal and how the ghost stories we tell reveal a lot about society.

Lithograph after a daguerreotype of Margaret, Catherine, and Leah Fox, three spiritualists in the mid 19th-century.
Arts & Culture

Ghost Hunting in the 19th Century

Though science and investigations of the paranormal might seem incompatible, they were intertwined for a long time.

Illustration of the female vampire "Carmilla" hovering over a woman lying in bed.
Health & Medicine

Vampire Panic

When an invisible threat plagued rural 19th-century New England, the evidence pointed to the supernatural.

Photograph of Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.
Inventions & Discoveries

Interview with Stéphane Bancel

The Moderna CEO reflects on the incredibly fast development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Photograph of Wendy Zukerman standing on a stage, wearing a t-shirt that says "Science isn't here to make you feel better."
People & Politics

Predicting the Pandemic

An interview with Wendy Zukerman, host of Science Vs podcast.

Black and white photograph of nurse Linda Ruggiero wearing a face mask, standing outside on a bridge.
Health & Medicine

COVID’s Hidden Toll on Nurses

“I just feel broken.”

Black and white photograph of nurse Sara Cohen in full PPE.
People & Politics

Between Us and Catastrophe

Stories from the pandemic’s essential workers.

Miss USA and Miss Australia stand with two men around a fragment of Skylab at the 28th Miss Universe pageant, held in Perth, Australia on 20 July 1979.
Inventions & Discoveries

Space Junk

Historian of science and Institute fellow Lisa Ruth Rand talks about all the debris floating around in outer space.

Illustration of an astronaut in outer space.
Inventions & Discoveries

Who Owns Outer Space?

When Latin America challenged a new era of colonization.

A man in a mine, using safety apparatus invented by Auguste Denayrouze, finds asphyxiated miners. Wood engraving by J. Nash, 1874.
Health & Medicine

The Alchemical Origins of Occupational Medicine

From Paracelsus to OSHA.

Photograph of scientist Gabriela Serrato Marks wearing a headlamp in a cave, surrounded by samples in plastic bags.
People & Politics

Bonus Episode: Interview with Gabriela Serrato Marks

The marine geologist and geophysicist talks about doing science with an invisible disability.

1920s black and white photograph of children learning geography in a classroom. Girls and boys are seated on different sides of the room.
People & Politics

Science and Disability: Part 2

What is intelligence?

Black and white photograph of US president Franklin Roosevelt in wheelchair, holding a dog in his lap, with a young girl next to him.
People & Politics

Bonus Episode: Interview with Kim Nielsen

A short history of disability in the United States.

Illustration of three microscopes.
People & Politics

Science and Disability: Part 1

Is seeing believing?

Illustration of a tableau of injected vessels and infant skeletons by Frederick Ruysch.
Arts & Culture

Collecting Monstrosity

The surprising origins of developmental embryology.

Photograph of Magda Marquet, in a garden, next to a Buddha statue.
Health & Medicine

Interview with Magda Marquet

The biochemical engineer and entrepreneur on her hopes for a better postpandemic society.

Photograph of Robert Langer sitting at the foot of a bed, wearing a surgical mask.
Health & Medicine

Interview with Robert Langer

The MIT chemical engineer and entrepreneur talks about Moderna Therapeutics, a company he helped start, and his work developing a way for vaccines to self-boost in the body.

Photograph of Mark Stevenson in blue suit and red tie.
Health & Medicine

Interview with Mark Stevenson

The Thermo Fisher Scientific executive tells us what it took for his instrumentation company to design a diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus.