Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

A Cold Day in Stockholm

At the dawn of a new age in neuroscience, the rivalry between Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramón y Cajal reached an icy climax.

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

Arts & Culture

The Philosophers’ Stove

Fancy some alchemical recipes from 15th-century Italy?

Health & Medicine

Write for a Free Booklet: Howard Bishop’s Crusade to Decontaminate America

The man who wanted to make the United States a healthier place and the sometimes fuzzy line between science and quackery.

Arts & Culture

Making Gemstones

How hard can it be to make a gemstone? Plenty hard. People have been trying for almost 2,000 years, but success finally beckoned in 19th-century France.

Color illustrations of a donut-shaped space colony
Inventions & Discoveries

A Future without Limits

For decades serious people have tried to turn the stuff of science fiction—space colonies, self-replicating machines, and solar sails—into scientific reality.

Color illustration of an open mouth showing a diseased tongue
Health & Medicine

Yellow Fever Fiend

A Confederate doctor had no problem breaking the Hippocratic oath.

Harvard Cyclotron
Inventions & Discoveries

Accelerating Oncology

How a machine used to create atom bombs became a tool for healing.


Clearing the Air

Three atmospheric scientists describe carrying their work beyond the lab.

Inventions & Discoveries

Harold C. Urey: Science, Religion, and Cold War Chemistry

What most frightened the Nobel Prize–winning chemist and explorer of Earth’s deep past?

Inventions & Discoveries

Whales in Space

Whale oil has been used in soap, explosives, and even margarine. Has it also fueled space exploration?

Inventions & Discoveries

Peak Phosphorus?

What does a world short on phosphorous look like?

Inventions & Discoveries

Processed: Food Science and the Modern Meal

The early 20th century was an especially rich time for creating ways to process and preserve food.

Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company began producing trading cards in 1872.
Inventions & Discoveries

Where’s the Beef?

Mix a 19th-century chemist with a South American roader builder. Add cows and boil.

Sheldon Kaplan’s patent diagrams for his improved automatic injector, EpiPen.
Health & Medicine

A Mighty Pen

Discover the history of the EpiPen.

Woodcut from the March 11, 1865, Harper’s Weekly
Health & Medicine

“The Popular Dose with Doctors”: Quinine and the American Civil War

During the Civil War necessity drove the North and South to develop different strategies for dealing with malaria.

Early Science & Alchemy

Laws of Attraction

The magnetic connection between sailors, adultery, and garlic.

People & Politics

Behind the Curtain

Three Hungarian scientists who survived the Nazi occupation of their country and escaped Soviet oppression.

Inventions & Discoveries

Boom Times

Follow the birth, life, and demise of the Hercules Powder Company, which once dominated the explosives industry in the United States.

Zenith Royal M transistor hearing aid
Inventions & Discoveries

Sound Waves

In the 1950s hearing aids shrank from the size of a cigarette packet to the size of a lighter. The secret behind this shrinkage? The mighty transistor.