New Scientist

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New Scientist
New Scientist cover, 6 February 2010
Editor Sumit Paul-Choudhury
Categories Science
Frequency Weekly
Total circulation
(June 2014)
Founder Tom Margerison
First issue 22 November 1956
Company Reed Business Information Ltd
Country United Kingdom
Language English
ISSN 0262-4079

New Scientist is a UK-based weekly English-language international science magazine, founded in 1956. 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 and publishes editions in the UK, the United States, and Australia.


The magazine was founded in 1956 by Tom Margerison, Max Raison and Nicholas Harrison[2] as The New Scientist, with Issue 1 on 22 November, priced one shilling (£0.05 as 20 shillings in the £) (£1.11 today).[3]

The British monthly science magazine Science Journal, published 1965–71, was merged with New Scientist to form New Scientist and Science Journal.[4]

Originally, the cover had a text list of articles rather than a picture.[5] 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.[6] In 1964 there was a regular "Science in British Industry" section with several items.[7] An article published on their tenth anniversary provides some anecdotes on the founding of the magazine.[2]

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.[8]

Issues of (The) New Scientist from Issue 1 to the end of 1989 have been made free to read online.[9] Subsequent issues require a subscription.[10]

As of the first half of 2013, the international 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.[11] For 2014 UK circulation decreased 3.2% but boosted by stronger international sales, circulation increased to 129,585.[1] See also #Website below.

Editors of New Scientist

Modern format

New Scientist currently contains the following sections: Leader, News, Technology, Opinion (interviews, point-of-view articles and letters), Features (including cover article), CultureLab (book and event reviews), Feedback (humour), The Last Word (questions and answers) and Jobs & Careers.[12]

There are 51 issues a year; the Christmas and New Year double issue covers two weeks. The double issue in 2014 was the 3,000th edition of the magazine.


Editor-in-chief is Jeremy Webb and the editor is Sumit Paul-Choudhury.[13] Consultants include Fred Pearce (environment) and Marcus Chown (cosmology). Simon Ings is an editor.


New Scientist runs advertisements for jobs and academic opportunities in the fields of science and technology. Originally in a "Classified Advertisements" section with subsections "Official Appointments", "Appointments and Situations Vacant", and "Travel" (coach holidays and prices), the section became "NewScientist Jobs".

Most advertising is full-page between sections.


The New Scientist website carries blogs, reports and news articles; 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.

The magazine had a weekly podcast, SciPod, which was discontinued in October 2007. In 2004 added a subdomain, "nomoresocks" (No More Socks), where visitors could search for, rate, and discuss innovative gifts. Falling interest in the site resulted in its being discontinued in 2005.

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".[14]

The technology, environment and space sites were discontinued in 2008, with the content being integrated into the main site.

Online readership takes various forms. Overall global views of an online database of over 100,000 articles are 8.0m by 3.6m unique users according to Adobe Reports & Analytics, as of September 2014. On social media there are 1.47m+ Twitter followers, 2.3m+ Facebook likes and 365,000+ Google+ followers as of January 2015.[15]


New Scientist has published books derived from its content, many of which are selected questions and answers from the Last Word section of the magazine and website -

Other books published by New Scientist include -

  • The Anti Zoo - 50 freaks of nature you won't see on TV (e-book based on the website's Zoologger column)
  • Nothing: Surprising insights everywhere from zero to oblivion. (compilation of articles previously published in the magazine) ISBN 978-1615192052
  • New Scientist: The Collection (series of e-books on specific scientific topics)
    • VOL1
      • The Big Questions
      • The Unknown Universe
      • Guide to a Better You
      • The Human Story
    • VOL2
      • Our Plantet
      • Being Human
      • Medical Frontiers
      • The Human Brain
      • 15 Ideas you Need to Understand
    • VOL3
      • Discovering Space

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.[16] In the same year the magazine launched a dating service, NewScientistConnect, operated by The Dating Lab.[citation needed]

A Dutch edition of the New Scientist was launched in June 2015, replacing the former NWT magazine. The monthly magazine is published by Veen Media and sold in the Netherlands and Belgium.[17][18]

Appearances in popular culture


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".[21]

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".[22]

"Darwin was wrong" cover

In January 2009, New Scientist ran a cover with the title "Darwin was wrong".[23] 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 a web instead of a tree. Some evolutionary biologists who actively oppose the intelligent design movement thought the cover was both sensationalist and damaging to the scientific community.[23][24] 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.[23]

See also


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  4. National Library of Australia Bib ID 2298705
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  7. New Scientist, vol. 21, No. 382, 12 March 1964.
  8. New Scientist, 19 January 1978.
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  20. Friday Night Dinner - Reviews and Press Articles - British Comedy Guide
  21. John C. Baez, "A Plea to Save New Scientist", 19 September 2006.
  22. Emdrive on trial
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Pharyngula: New Scientist flips the bird at scientists, again
  24. "The New Scientist has no shame–again!" Why Evolution Is True blog, 21 March 2009.

External links