New Scientist, first published on 22 November 1956, is a weekly, English-language magazine that covers all aspects of science and technology. New Scientist, based in London, publishes editions in the UK, the United States, and Australia. Since 1996 it is also online.
Sold in retail outlets and on subscription, the magazine covers news, features, reviews and commentary on science, technology and their implications. New Scientist also publishes speculative articles, ranging from the technical to the philosophical.
The magazine was founded in 1956 by Tom Margerison, Max Raison and Nicholas Harrison as The New Scientist, with Issue 1 on 22 November, priced one shilling (£0.05 as 20 shillings in the £; £1.15 today). The British monthly science magazine Science Journal, published 1965–71, was merged with New Scientist to form New Scientist and Science Journal. Originally, the cover of New Scientist listed articles in plain text. Initially, page numbering followed academic practice with sequentially numbering for an entire quarterly volume, so, for example, the first page of an issue in March could be 649 instead of 1. Later issues numbered issues separately. From the beginning of 1961 "The" was dropped from the title. From 1965, the front cover was illustrated. Until the 1970s, colour was not used except for on the cover. 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. An article in the magazine's 10th anniversary issues provides anecdotes on the founding of the magazine.
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. The Ariadne pages in New Scientist commented on the lighter side of science and technology and included contributions from Daedalus. The fictitious inventor devised plausible but impractical and humorous inventions, often developed by the (fictitious) DREADCO corporation. Daedalus later moved to Nature. Issues of (The) New Scientist from Issue 1 to the end of 1989 have been made free to read online. Subsequent issues require a subscription.
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. For the 2014 UK circulation fell by 3.2% but stronger international sales, increased the circulation to 129,585. See also #Website below.
In April 2017, New Scientist changed hands when RELX Group, formerly known as Reed Elsevier, sold the magazine to Kingston Acquisitions, a group set up by Sir Bernard Gray, Louise Rogers and Matthew O’Sullivan in order to acquire New Scientist. Kingston Acquisitions then renamed itself New Scientist Ltd.
New Scientist currently contains the following sections: Leader, News (Upfront), 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. A readers' letters section discusses recent articles. Discussions also take place on the website. Readers also contribute observations on examples of pseudoscience to Feedback. They also offer questions and answers on scientific and technical topics to Last Word. New Scientist has produced a series of books compiled from contributions to Last Word.
There are 51 issues a year, with a Christmas and New Year double issue. The double issue in 2014 was the 3,000th edition of the magazine.
The Editor-in-chief is Sumit Paul-Choudhury, Executive Editor is Graham Lawton, Managing Editor is Rowan Hooper and Editor-at-Large is Jeremy Webb. It was announced on 31 January 2018, that Paul-Choudhury is to take up a post as Strategy Director with Emily Wilson, previously assistant editor of The Guardian, replacing him, to become the publication's first female editor. Consultants include Fred Pearce (environment), Marcus Chown (cosmology), and Linda Geddes (biomedicine). 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[update]. On social media there are 1.47m+ Twitter followers, 2.3m+ Facebook likes and 365,000+ Google+ followers as of January 2015[update].
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. 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, published by Veen Media, is sold in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Since 2016 New Scientist has held an annual science festival in London. Styled New Scientist Live, the event has attracted high-profile scientists and science presenters.
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". 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".
In January 2009, New Scientist ran a cover with the title "Darwin was wrong". 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. 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.