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Scientific American
A magazine cover depicting a photorealistic view of the Earth, inserted into a melted ice cube, with the magazines masthead at top and a headline between the masthead and the Earth reading "Did Humans Stop an ICE AGE?" Beneath the headline in smaller type os tje subheading "8,000 years of global warming"
Cover of the March 2005 issue
Categories Popular science
Frequency Monthly
Total circulation
732,617 (worldwide average)
First issue August 28, 1845
Company Holtzbrinck/Nature Publishing Group
Country USA
Language English
ISSN 0036-8733

Scientific American (informally abbreviated SciAm) is a popular science periodical



Scientific American was founded by Rufus M. Porter, who grew up in Bridgton, Maine, as a single-page newsletter. Throughout its early years much emphasis was placed on reports of what was going on at the U.S. Patent Office. It also reported on a broad range of inventions including perpetual motion machines, an 1849 device for buoying vessels by Abraham Lincoln, and the universal joint which now finds place in nearly every automobile manufactured. Current issues feature a "this date in history" section, featuring excerpts from articles originally published 50, 100, and 150 years earlier; topics include humorous incidents, wrong-headed theories, and noteworthy advances in the history of science and technology.

Porter sold the newsletter in 1846 to Alfred Ely Beach and Orson Desaix Munn I, and until 1948 it remained owned by Munn & Company. Under Orson Desaix Munn III, grandson of the Orson I, it had evolved into something of a "workbench" publication, similar to the 20th century incarnation of Popular Science. In the years after World War II, the magazine was dying. Three partners who were planning on starting a new popular science magazine, to be called The Sciences, instead purchased the assets of the old Scientific American and put its name on the designs they had created for their new magazine. Thus the partners -- publisher Gerard Piel, editor Dennis Flanagan, and general manager Donald H. Miller, Jr. -- created essentially a new magazine, the Scientific American magazine of the second half of the twentieth century. Miller retired in 1979, Flanagan and Piel in 1984, when Gerard Piel's son Jonathan became president and editor; circulation had grown fifteenfold since 1948. In 1986 it was sold to the Holtzbrinck group of Germany, who have owned it since. In the fall of 2008, Scientific American was put under the control of Nature Publishing Group, a division of Holtzbrinck.[1]

Donald Miller died in December, 1998,[2] Gerard Piel in September 2004 and Dennis Flanagan in January 2005. Mariette DiChristina is the current editor-in-chief, after John Rennie stepped down in June 2009.[1]

International editions

Scientific American published its first foreign edition in 1890, the Spanish-language "La America Cientifica." Publication was suspended in 1905, and another 63 years would pass before another foreign-language edition appeared: In 1968, an Italian edition, Le Scienze, was launched, and a Japanese edition, Nikkei Science (日経サイエンス), followed three years later. Kexue (科学,“Science” in Chinese), a simplified Chinese edition launched in 1979, was the first Western magazine published in the People's Republic of China. Later in 2001, a newer edition, Global Science (环球科学), was published instead of Kexue, which shut down due to financial problems.

Today, Scientific American publishes 18 foreign-language editions around the globe: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish.

From 1902 to 1911, Scientific American supervised the publication of the Encyclopedia Americana, which during some of that period was known as The Americana.

First issue

Cover of the September 1848 issue

It originally styled itself "The Advocate of Industry and Enterprise" and "Journal of Mechanical and other Improvements". On the front page of the first issue was the engraving of "Improved Rail-Road Cars". The masthead had a commentary as follows:

Scientific American published every Thursday morning at No. 11 Spruce Street, New York, No. 16 State Street, Boston, and No. 2l Arcade Philadelphia, (The principal office being in New York) by Rufus Porter. Each number will be furnished with from two to five original Engravings, many of them elegant, and illustrative of New Inventions, Scientific Principles, and Curious Works; and will contain, in high addition to the most interesting news of passing events, general notices of progress of Mechanical and other Scientific Improvements; American and Foreign. Improvements and Inventions; Catalogues of American Patents; Scientific Essays, illustrative of the principles of the sciences of Mechanics, Chemistry, and Architecture: useful information and instruction in various Arts and Trades; Curious Philosophical Experiments; Miscellaneous Intelligence, Music and Poetry. This paper is especially entitled to the patronage of Mechanics and Manufactures, being the only paper in America, devoted to the interest of those classes; but is particularly useful to farmers, as it will not only appraise them of improvements in agriculture implements, But instruct them in various mechanical trades, and guard them against impositions As a family newspaper, it will convey more useful intelligence to children and young people, than five times its cost in school instruction. Another important argument in favor of this paper, is that it will be worth two dollars at the end of the year when the volume is complete, (Old volumes of the New York Mechanic, being now worth double the original cost, in cash.) Terms: The "Scientific American" will be furnished to subscribers at $2.00 per annum, - one dollar in advance, and the balance in six months. Five copies will be sent to one address six months for four dollars in advance. Any person procuring two or more subscribers, will be entitled to a commission of 25 cents each.

The commentary under the illustration gives the flavor of its style at the time:

There is, perhaps no mechanical subject, in which improvement has advanced so rapidly, within the last ten years, as that of railroad passenger cars. Let any person contrast the awkward and uncouth cars of '35 with the superbly splendid long cars now running on several of the eastern roads, and he will find it difficult to convey to a third party, a correct idea of the vast extent of improvement. Some of the most elegant cars of this class, and which are of a capacity to accommodate from sixty to eighty passengers, and run with a steadiness hardly equalled by a steamboat in still water, are manufactured by Davenport & Bridges, at their establishment in Cambridgeport, Mass. The manufacturers have recently introduced a variety of excellent improvements in the construction of trucks, springs, and connections, which are calculated to avoid atmospheric resistance, secure safety and convenience, and contribute ease and comfort to passengers, while flying at the rate of 30 or 40 miles per hour."

Also in the first issue is commentary on Signor Muzio Muzzi's proposed device for aerial navigation.


Special Navy Supplement, 1898

Special issues

Scientific American 50 award

The Scientific American 50 award was started in 2002 to recognise contributions to science and technology during the magazine's previous year. The magazine's 50 awards cover many categories including agriculture, communications, defence, environment, and medical diagnostics. The complete list of each year's winners appear in the December issue of the magazine, as well as on the magazine's web site.


In March 1996 Scientific American launched its own website that includes articles from current and past issues, online-only features, daily news, weird science, special reports, trivia, "Scidoku" and more.


Notable features have included:


Scientific American also produced a TV program on PBS called Scientific American Frontiers.


In its January 2002 issue, Scientific American published a series of criticisms of the Bjorn Lomborg book "The Skeptical Environmentalist". Cato Institute fellow Patrick J. Michaels said the attacks came because the book "threatens billions of taxpayer dollars that go into the global change kitty every year."[5] Journalist Ronald Bailey called the criticism "disturbing" and "dishonest", writing, "The subhead of the review section, 'Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist,' gives the show away: Religious and political views need to defend themselves against criticism, but science is supposed to be a process for determining the facts."[6]

The May 2007 issue featured a column by Michael Shermer calling for a United States pullout from the Iraq War.[7] In response, Wall Street Journal online columnist James Taranto jokingly called Scientific American "a liberal political magazine".[8]

The publisher was criticized when it notified collegiate libraries that subscribe to the journal that yearly subscription prices would increase by nearly 500% for print and 50% for online access to $1500 yearly.[9]

See also


Specific references:

  1. ^ a b Fell, Jason. "Scientific American Editor, President to Step Down; 5 Percent of Staff Cut". FOLIO. Retrieved 2009-04-26.  
  2. ^ "Donald H. Miller". New York Times. December 27, 1998. "Miller-Donald H., Jr. Vice President and General Manager of the magazine Scientific American for 32 years until his retirement in 1979. Died on December 22, at home in Chappaqua, NY. He was 84. Survived by his wife of 50 years, Claire; children Linda Itkin, Geoff Kaufman, Sheila Miller Bernson, Bruce Miller, Meredith Davis, and Donald H. Miller, M.D; nine grandchildren and one greatgrandchild; and brother Douglas H. Miller. Memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 30, at 2 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco, NY. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice Care in Westchester, 100 So. Bedford Road, Mount Kisco, NY 10549."  
  3. ^ "A Century of Progress". Time (magazine). January 1, 1945.,9171,791839,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-15. "Present editor and publisher (third in the line) is Orson Desaix Munn, 61, a patent lawyer, crack bird hunter and fisherman, rumba fancier, familiar figure in Manhattan café society."  
  4. ^ "Dennis Flanagan, 85, Editor of Scientific American for 37 Years". New York Times. January 17, 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-01. "Dennis Flanagan, who as editor of Scientific American magazine helped foster science writing for the general reader, died at his home in Manhattan on Friday. He was 85. The cause of death was prostate cancer, according to his wife, Barbara Williams Flanagan. Mr. Flanagan, who worked at Scientific American for more than three decades beginning in 1947, teamed editors directly with working scientists, publishing pieces by leading figures like Albert Einstein, Linus Pauling and J. Robert Oppenheimer."  
  5. ^ Who Let the Dogs Out at Scientific American?, Patrick J. Michaels, January 17, 2002
  6. ^ Green with Ideology, Ronald Bailey, Reason, May 2002
  7. ^ Bush's Mistake and Kennedy's Error, Michael Shermer, Scientific American, May 2007
  8. ^ Sunk or Bunk?, James Taranto, Best of the Web Today, May 18, 2007
  9. ^ Howard, Jennifer (October 13, 2009). "College Library Directors Protest Huge Jump in 'Scientific American' Price". Chronical of Higher Eduction. Retrieved 2009-10-14.  

General references:

  • Lewenstein, Bruce V. 1989. Magazine Publishing and Popular Science After World War II. American Journalism 6 (4):218-234.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

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Scientific American
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Scientific American is a popular-science magazine, published (first weekly and later monthly) since August 28, 1845, making it the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. It brings articles about new and innovative research to the amateur and lay audience.

Publication history

  • First series in 14 volumes published weekly from August 28, 1845 until June 25, 1859.
  • Second series began on July 2, 1859 as a weekly and continued thus until 1921 when it merged with Scientific American Monthly, and continued as a monthly from November 1921 until the present. Volume number 128 was used twice. Most recently volume 299 has been issued in the second half of 2008.
  • Scientific American Supplement was a monthly published in 88 volumes between 1876 and 1919.
  • Scientific American Monthly superseded the supplement, and was published in four volumes until October 1921.
  • Scientific American Building Monthly began in November 1885, was renamed the Scientific American. Architects and Builders Edition the following month, and continued with that name until December 1901, and became Scientific American. Building Edition until June 1905, after a total of 39 volumes. In July 1905 it was superseded by American Homes and Gardens which lasted until September 1915, when it merged with House & Garden. That publication has announced that the December 2007 issue will be its last.
  • A monthly export edition was produced with separate paging with América cientifica between January 1895 and February 1903.
Scientific American 1848 masthead.png

First series

Second series

Simple English

Scientific American is a popular science magazine, published (first weekly and later monthly) since August 28, 1845, making it the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. It brings articles about new and innovative research to the amateur and lay audience.

Other websites

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