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New Scientist

New Scientist
New Scientist cover, 6 February 2010
Editor Sumit Paul-Choudhury
Categories Science
Frequency weekly
Total circulation
(June 2013)
Founder Tom Margerison[2]
First issue 22 November 1956
Company Reed Business Information Ltd
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Website .com.newscientistwww
ISSN 0262-4079

New Scientist is a UK based weekly non-peer-reviewed English-language international science magazine,[3] founded by Tom Margerison in 1956.[2] Since 1996 it has also run a website.

Sold in retail outlets and on subscription, the magazine covers current developments, news, reviews and commentary on science and technology. It also prints speculative articles, ranging from the technical to the philosophical. There is a readers' letters section which discusses recent articles, and discussions also take place on the website.

Readers contribute observations on examples of pseudoscience to Feedback, and questions and answers on scientific and technical topics to Last Word; extracts from the latter have been compiled into several books.

New Scientist is based in London, England, and publishes editions in the UK, the United States, and Australia. Sumit Paul-Choudhury became editor in 2011,[4] following Roger Highfield's move to the National Museum of Science and Industry in London.[5]



The magazine was founded in 1956 by Tom Margerison, a British science journalist and broadcaster,[2] as The New Scientist, with Issue 1 on 22 November, priced one shilling (5 pence today).[6]

The British science magazine Science Journal, published 1965–71, was merged with New Scientist to form New Scientist and Science Journal.[7]

Originally, the cover had a text list of articles rather than a picture.[8] Pages were numbered sequentially for an entire volume of many issues, as is the norm for academic journals (i.e., so that the first page of a March issue could be 651 instead of 1); later each issue's pages were numbered separately. Colour was not used except for blocks of colour on the cover. From the beginning of 1961 "The" was dropped from the title and from 1965 the front cover was illustrated.[9] In 1964 there was a regular "Science in British Industry" section with several items.[10] An article published on their tenth anniversary provides some anecdotes on the founding of the magazine.[11]

In 1970, the company Albert E. Reed acquired New Scientist when it merged with IPC Magazines, retaining the magazine when it sold most of its consumer magazines in a management buyout to what is now IPC Media.

The Grimbledon Down comic strip appeared from 1970 to 1994. Ariadne, which later moved to Nature, commented every week on the lighter side of science and technology and the plausible but impractical humorous inventions of (fictitious) inventor Daedalus, often developed by the (fictitious) DREADCO corporation.[12]

Issues of (The) New Scientist from Issue 1 to the end of 1989 have been made free to read online.[13] Subsequent issues require a subscription.[14]

As of the first half of 2013, the UK circulation averaged 125,172, a 4.3% reduction on the previous year's figure, but a considerably smaller reduction than many other mainstream magazines of similar or greater circulation.[15]

Modern format

The fully illustrated magazine in 2014 features several sections: Leader, News, Technology, Opinion (interviews, point-of-view articles and letters), Features (including cover article), CultureLab (book and event reviews), Feedback, The Last Word and Jobs & Careers.[16]


New Scientist runs advertisements for jobs and academic opportunities in the field of science. In the early days they were in a "Classified Advertisements" section with subsections "Official Appointments", "Appointments and Situations Vacant", and "Travel", with a list of coach holidays and prices. The general classified section was dropped in favour of what has become "NewScientist Jobs".

Other advertising (particularly but not exclusively of interest to scientists and technologists) is carried in the magazine. Most advertising is full-page between sections.


The New Scientist website has blogs and limited news articles and is available to anybody; users with free-of-charge registration have limited access to new content and can receive emailed New Scientist newsletters. Subscribers to the print edition have full access to all articles and the archive of past content that has so far been digitised. As of 2012 a Web 30-day access pass was available, at different prices in different countries (e.g., US$19.95 in the United States).[17] The website also has special reports on many topics.

The magazine had a weekly podcast, SciPod, which was discontinued in October 2007.

In late 2004 added a subdomain, "nomoresocks" (No More Socks), where visitors could search for, rate, and discuss innovative gifts. Use of the site had dropped considerably by June 2005, and it was discontinued.

From mid-2006 some New Scientist content was made available to users of Newsvine, a community-driven social news website.

From mid-December 2009 to March 2010 non-subscribers could read up to seven articles per month.

In November 2009 New Scientist started The S Word, a blog providing a forum for the discussion of "The science of politics – and vice versa". It was so named because "Despite the central role that science plays in our world, politicians often seem reluctant to engage with it", with the aim of the blog being to help "persuade politicians that 'the s word' belongs at the heart of political debate".[18]

The technology, environment and space sites were discontinued in 2008, with the content being integrated into the main site. The site includes a blog on a range of topics from inventions to "short sharp" science.


Over the years New Scientist has published several series of books derived from its content. Most recently it has compiled seven books of selected questions and answers from the Last Word section of the magazine and the Last Word website.

  • 1998. The Last Word. ISBN 978-0-19-286199-3
  • 2000. The Last Word 2. ISBN 978-0-19-286204-4
  • 2005. Does Anything Eat Wasps? And 101 Other Questions. ISBN 978-1-86197-973-5
  • 2006. Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? And 114 Other Questions. ISBN 978-1-86197-876-9

Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? is largely a repackaging of selected material from the first two books, following the unexpected mass-market success of Does Anything Eat Wasps?

  • 2007. How to Fossilise Your Hamster: And Other Amazing Experiments For The Armchair Scientist. ISBN 978-1-84668-044-1
  • 2008. Do Polar Bears Get Lonely?: And 101 Other Intriguing Science Questions. ISBN 978-1-84668-130-1
  • 2009. How to Make a Tornado: The Strange and Wonderful Things That Happen When Scientists Break Free. ISBN 978-1846682872
  • 2010. Why Can't Elephants Jump?: And 113 More Science Questions Answered. ISBN 978-1-84668-398-5
  • 2011. Why Are Orangutans Orange?: Science Questions In Picture - With Fascinating Answers. ISBN 978-1-84668-507-1
  • 2012. Will We Ever Speak Dolphin?: And 130 Other Science Questions Answered. ISBN 978-1-78125-026-6
  • 2014. Question Everything: 132 science questions - and their unexpected answers. ISBN 978-1781251645

In 2012 Arc, "a new digital quarterly from the makers of New Scientist, exploring the future through the world of science fiction" and fact was launched.[19]

Also in 2012 the magazine launched a dating service, NewScientistConnect, operated by The Dating Lab.

Appearances in popular culture

  • During the introductory sequence of the 1965 film The Ipcress File, a character is shown reading the magazine.[20]
  • In the first episode of the 2012 British sitcom Friday Night Dinner, a character is shown to obsessively collect the magazine.[21]


Greg Egan's criticism of the EmDrive article

In September 2006, New Scientist was criticised by science fiction writer Greg Egan, who wrote that "a sensationalist bent and a lack of basic knowledge by its writers" was making the magazine's coverage sufficiently unreliable "to constitute a real threat to the public understanding of science". In particular, Egan found himself "gobsmacked by the level of scientific illiteracy" in the magazine's coverage of Roger Shawyer's "electromagnetic drive", where New Scientist allowed the publication of "meaningless double-talk" designed to bypass a fatal objection to Shawyer's proposed space drive, namely that it violates the law of conservation of momentum. Egan urged others to write to New Scientist and pressure the magazine to raise its standards, instead of "squandering the opportunity that the magazine's circulation and prestige provides".[22]

The editor of New Scientist, then Jeremy Webb, replied defending the article, saying that it is "an ideas magazine—that means writing about hypotheses as well as theories".[23]

"Darwin was wrong" cover

In January 2009, New Scientist ran a cover with the title "Darwin was wrong". The actual story stated that specific details of Darwin's evolution theory had been shown incorrectly, mainly the shape of phylogenetic trees of interrelated species, which should be represented as web instead of tree.[24] Some evolutionary biologists who actively oppose the intelligent design movement thought the cover was both sensationalist and damaging to the scientific community.[24][25] Jerry Coyne, author of the book Why Evolution Is True, called for a boycott of the magazine, which was supported by evolutionary biologists Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers.[24]

See also


  1. ^ "Mag ABCs: Full circulation round-up for the first half of 2013".  
  2. ^ a b c Richmond, Caroline (2014-03-03). "Tom Margerison obituary".  
  3. ^ Krauss, Lawrence. "Commentary: Editors must be our gatekeepers". New Scientist, no. 2671, 27 August 2008, p. 46.
  4. ^ "Who's Who at New Scientist". New Scientist. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "About Roger Highfield". Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  6. ^ The New Scientist. 22 November 1956. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  7. ^ National Library of Australia Bib ID 2298705
  8. ^ The New Scientist. 7 January 1960. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "New Scientist, Google Books". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  10. ^ New Scientist, vol. 21 No. 382, 12 March 1964
  11. ^ Calder, Nigel (24 November 1966). "How New Scientist got started". New Scientist. 
  12. ^ New Scientist for 19 January 1978
  13. ^ "New Scientist, Google Books". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "New Scientist - Archive". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "PressGazette circulation figures". Retrieved 4 Oct 2013. 
  16. ^ New Scientist. Reed Business Information. 2014. 
  17. ^ Web 30-day access pass
  18. ^ "Welcome to the S Word!". New Scientist. 24 November 2009. 
  19. ^ Arc URL, redirects to
  20. ^ New Scientist (2013). "New Scientist - 11 February 1988 (on Google Books)". Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  21. ^ Friday Night Dinner - Reviews and Press Articles - British Comedy Guide
  22. ^ John C. Baez New ScientistA Plea to Save
  23. ^ Emdrive on trial
  24. ^ a b c Pharyngula: New Scientist flips the bird at scientists, again
  25. ^ The New Scientist has no shame–again! Why Evolution Is True blog, 21 March 2009.

External links

  • Official website
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