Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities. – Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)
I have many admirations, and one of them is for a bi-weekly magazine called Science News. My first introduction to this amazing publication was in 1973, when a friend of my recently-divorced mother, Frank Gillotti, started giving me his copies after he was finished reading them. I was a sophomore at Hoover High School in Des Moines then, and by my senior year I was a subscriber for life.
Science News has been around a long time. It started way back in 1922 as Science News-Letter, and remained that until 1966, when it became Science News. Today, Science News has an international circulation of about 94,000—alarmingly, down quite a bit (like most magazines) from its peak circulation of nearly 250,000 in the late 1980s. Unlike most magazines these days, Science News is not saturated with advertising, but is instead chock-full of well-written, accurate, and timely news and feature articles about all areas of science, technology, and mathematics. Yes, astronomy and space science are covered thoroughly! And, with each bi-weekly1 issue numbering 32 pages (though, occasionally 40+), it is easy to find the time to read or at least skim it cover-to-cover every two weeks.
In my early years reading Science News, one writer I particularly admired was senior editor / physics editor Dietrick E. Thomsen, whom I was so fortunate to meet at the AAS Meeting in Ames, Iowa in June 1986. Sadly, he passed away in 1988. One thing I remember about him besides his always-excellent articles was his passion for passenger trains, and his growing distaste for air travel at the time (and it has only gotten worse). At that time, I had never ridden on a passenger train, but nowadays I ride Amtrak regularly, and love it!
Another fantastic writer in those days at Science News was space science editor Jonathan Eberhart (1942-2003) whose brilliant and unconventional career was sidelined by multiple sclerosis by 1991. The AAS Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) has awarded the Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award annually since 2009. J. Kelly Beatty (Sky & Telescope) was the first recipient (in 2009), and Emily Lakdawalla (The Planetary Society) won the 2011 award.
Science News maintains an excellent web site. One feature I really like is they provide a complete list of sources and references for their magazine articles.
And, Society for Science & the Public (SSP), the nonprofit corporation that produces Science News, also produces an excellent website and print magazine for readers ages 9-14, Science News Explores.
Check out these wonderful resources regularly, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to subscribe!
1Science News published weekly through April 12, 2008. Science News began publishing bi-weekly on May 10, 2008.
2 thoughts on “Science News”
True to form, Science News was the best source of information on the amazing neutron star merger announced today, thanks to physics writer Emily Conover. Kudos!
Science News is a great source for breaking news, as was the case for the neutron star merger announced last October 17th. For a later, more in-depth article on this event, see the outstanding write-up “When Neutron Stars Collide” by Govert Schilling in the February 2018 issue of Sky & Telescope, pp. 32-39. A must read!