New Scientist

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 (1956-11-22)
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 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 £) (£1.13 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 quarterly volume, 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 issues numbered pages separately. Until the 1970s, colour was not used except for on the cover. From the beginning of 1961 "The" was dropped from the title. From 1965, the front cover was illustrated.[6]

Since its first issue, New Scientist has written about the applications of science, through its coverage of technology. For example, the first issue included an article "Where next from Calder Hall?" on the future of nuclear power in the UK, a topic that it has covered throughout its history. In 1964 there was a regular "Science in British Industry" section with several items.[7]

An article published on the magazine's 10th anniversary issues provides some anecdotes on the founding of the magazine.[2]

In 1970, the Reed Group, which went on to become Reed Elsevier, acquired New Scientist when it merged with IPC Magazines. Reed retained the magazine when it sold most of its consumer titles in a management buyout to what is now IPC Media.

Throughout most of its history, New Scientist has published cartoons as light relief and comment on the news, with contributions from such long-time regular contributors as Mike Peyton and David Austin. The Grimbledon Down comic strip, by the renowned cartoonist Bill Tidy, appeared from 1970 to 1994.

Ariadne, which later moved to Nature, commented weekly on the lighter side of science and technology, with 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]

In the first half of 2013, the international circulation of New Scientist averaged 125,172. While this was a 4.3% reduction on the previous year's figure, it was a much smaller reduction in circulation than many mainstream magazines of similar or greater circulation.[11] For the 2014 UK circulation fell by 3.2% but stronger international sales, increased the circulation 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. A Tom Gauld cartoon appears on the Letters page.[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.

Staff and contributors

The Editor is Rowan Hooper, Editor-in-chief is Sumit Paul-Choudhury and Editor-at-Large is Jeremy Webb.[13]

Consultants include Fred Pearce (environment) and Marcus Chown (cosmology).

Simon Ings and former editor Alun Anderson are contributors.)


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.

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.[14]


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 -

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

A Dutch edition of the New Scientist was launched in June 2015, replacing the former Natuurwetenschap & Techniek (NWT) magazine. The monthly magazine is published by Veen Media and sold in the Netherlands and Belgium.[16][17]


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".[18]

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".[19]

"Darwin was wrong" cover

In January 2009, New Scientist ran a cover with the title "Darwin was wrong".[20] 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.[20][21] 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.[20]

See also


  1. 1 2 Ponsford, Dominic (14 August 2014). "UK magazine combined print/digital sales figures for first half 2014: Complete breakdown". Press Gazette. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  2. 1 2 Calder, Nigel (24 November 1966). "How New Scientist got started". New Scientist.
  3. The New Scientist. 22 November 1956. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  4. National Library of Australia Bib ID 2298705
  5. The New Scientist. 7 January 1960. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  6. New Scientist, Google Books. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  7. New Scientist, vol. 21, No. 382, 12 March 1964.
  8. New Scientist, 19 January 1978.
  9. New Scientist, Google Books. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  10. "Browse New Scientist magazine from 1989". Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  11. "PressGazette circulation figures". Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  12. New Scientist. Reed Business Information. 2014.
  13. Who's who at New Scientist | New Scientist
  14. "Audience & Brand". New Scientist Media Centre. 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  15. "Arc". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  16. "Tijdschrift New Scientist naar Nederland". 26 February 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  17. "New Scientist - Dutch Edition". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  18. John C. Baez, "A Plea to Save New Scientist", 19 September 2006.
  19. Emdrive on trial
  20. 1 2 3 Pharyngula: New Scientist flips the bird at scientists, again
  21. "The New Scientist has no shame–again!" Why Evolution Is True blog, 21 March 2009.
  22. James Oberg (11 October 1979). "The Failure of the 'Science' of Ufology". New Scientist. Vol. 84 no. 1176. pp. 102–105.
  23. Alter, Adam (2013). Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave. London: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-78074-264-9.
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