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November 07, 2000

The Decline of Popular Science Magazines

I just finished reading the first issue of Scientific American to arrive after Jean subscribed. It has been years since I've sat down and read one of these things cover to cover. In recent years, the Internet has supplanted a lot of my science mag reading material. So now I've had a chance to pore over one in detail. Grade: B-

The Scientific American I recall was pretty dense. It didn't talk down to you, but the articles were within reach if you were willing to work a little. The current issue may be an anomaly, but I found the writing on the whole a lot more like that which I remember from Popular Science, another magazine I used to read.

On the whole, I think that the approach to science in mainstream magazines has become lighter, more entertainment oriented. When I was young, I used to go to the Wakefield library (over the firehouse) on a summer morn, and devour every science magazine I could find, including Popular Science, Science Digest and even Popular Mechanics. The more lightweight tone of some of these magazines was ideal for a budding science geek, but as an adult I want more meat.

I'll continue reading the Scientific Americans as they arrive, but I'm also looking forward to comparing it with the weekly New Scientist. And maybe in the future I'll spring for the far spendier Science or Nature.

Posted by dpwakefield at November 7, 2000 08:44 AM