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.

Inventions & Discoveries

Darwin’s Barnacles

How an obsession with crustaceans guided the naturalist toward his most consequential insights.


How Two Outsider Scientists Saw Inside Climate Change

Eunice Foote and Guy Callendar showed the warming effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Arts & Culture

Fit to Be Dyed

The enduring appeal of tie-dye.

People & Politics

The Dark Stars of Marietta Blau

A scientist pitted hard work and ingenuity against the constraints she faced as a Jewish woman.

Photo of woman exiting building surrounded by news cameras
People & Politics

Why Did Annie Dookhan Lie?

Forensic science can be a powerful crime-fighting tool, but misdeeds, dubious methodologies, and bogus claims threaten its reputation—and the reputation of science as a whole.

Health & Medicine

Searching for Isabel Morgan

Reconsidering the fate of an overlooked polio fighter.

Cartoon of men in powdered wigs fighting
Health & Medicine

Vicious Doctors and Cruel Diseases in 18th-Century Jamaica

A scientific dispute takes a violent, absurd turn.

Health & Medicine

Wayne Woolley’s Marvelously Equipped Mind

What drove a blind biochemist to experiment with LSD?

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.