New Scientist cover, 6 February 2010
|Circulation||170,000 (June 2006) |
|Company||Reed Business Information Ltd|
New Scientist is a weekly international science magazine and website covering recent developments in science and technology for a general English-speaking audience. Founded in 1956, it is published by Reed Business Information Ltd, a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier. New Scientist has maintained a website since 1996, publishing daily news. As well as covering current events and news from the scientific community, the magazine often features speculative articles, ranging from the technical to the philosophical.
It is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but it is read by both scientists and non-scientists, as a way of keeping track of developments outside their own fields of study or areas of interest. The magazine also regularly includes features, news and commentary on environmental issues, such as climate change.
Based in London, New Scientist has U.S. and Australian editions as well as a British edition.
The original idea for New Scientist came from nuclear physicists, who wanted to improve public understanding of the reality of the subject, especially in the wake of a degree of panic surrounding nuclear tests in the 1950s.
The British science magazine Science Journal, published 1965–71, was merged with the New Scientist to form New Scientist and Science Journal.
As of January 2008, the magazine is laid out as follows:
Daily news articles are available on their official website as well as extracts from longer articles, with a subscription service required to view full content. There are also special reports on topics from nanotechnology to cancer. The magazine's weekly podcast, SciPod, was discontinued in October 2007.
In late 2004 NewScientist.com added a subdomain called "nomoresocks" (No More Socks) where visitors could search for, rate, and discuss innovative gifts. Usage of the site dropped considerably by June 2005, and the section has since been retired.
In mid-2006, New Scientist content was also made available to users of Newsvine, a community-driven social news web site.
According to Technorati, NewScientist.com is the 14th in the list of most-linked-to news organisations and the only science and technology specialist in the top 100.
As of mid-December 2009, users that read three or more articles each month are greeted with an invitation to become paying subscribers that occludes the article text. If a user chooses not to subscribe, they will not be able to view any New Scientist articles until the following month.
NewScientist.com is organized into several sub-sections. The main site includes a list of news stories and features.
The technology site, environment site and space site were retired in 2008, with the content being integrated into the main NewScientist.com site. The site also includes a blog, on a range of topics from inventions to short sharp science.
Roger Highfield, the current editor, read chemistry at Pembroke College, Oxford and holds a doctorate in physical chemistry, his thesis concerning the interaction of neutrons on soap bubbles. He was appointed to his current role in 2008, having previously been science editor of The Daily Telegraph. In the latter role, he won many awards for his science journalism, and authored or co-authored eight books, including the best-selling The Arrow of Time (1992) with Dr Peter Coveney, and The Private Lives of Albert Einstein with Paul Carter (1995), which prompted considerable controversy through its focus on the emerging documentary evidence of Einstein's private life, affairs and the fate of his first child, Liserl. Highfield was chairperson at Pestival Symposium in September 2009. The editor of the Sydney-based Australian edition is E. L. Young, herself the author of several books.
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 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".
The New Scientist editor replied defending the article, saying that it is "an ideas magazine—that means writing about hypotheses as well as theories".
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 wrong, mainly the shape of phylogenetic trees of interrelated species. However, prominent champions of evolution engaged in opposing intelligent design theory thought the cover was both sensationalistic and damaging to the scientific community. Dr. Jerry Coyne, author of the book Why Evolution is True (ISBN 0199230846) and its related blog, called for a boycott of the magazine, which was supported by prominent evolutionary biologists Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers.
New Scientist has compiled six books of selected questions and answers from the Last Word section of the magazine. In 1998 the book The Last Word (ISBN 978-0192861993) was published and was followed in 2000 by The Last Word 2 (ISBN 978-0192862044). In 2005 and 2006 respectively, the books Does Anything Eat Wasps? And 101 Other Questions (ISBN 978-1861979735) and Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? And 114 Other Questions (ISBN 978-1861978769) were published. The latter was in part a repackaging of selected material from the first two books, following the unexpected mass-market success of Does Anything Eat Wasps?. In late 2007, the book How to Fossilise Your Hamster: And Other Amazing Experiments For The Armchair Scientist (ISBN 978-1846680441) was published. It was more interactive than previous "Last Word" books as it included instructions on how to carry out many of the experiments mentioned, often using everyday household items. In October 2008 a further collection was published, titled Do Polar Bears Get Lonely?: And 101 Other Intriguing Science Questions (ISBN 978-1846681301).