Science magazine rec?
July 15, 2005 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Science Magazine? I'm a fairly smart guy, much more focussed on the humanities than on science. I'd like to subscribe to a magazine that will raise my science IQ and teach me neat stuff, without overwhelming me with articles I find impossible to understand. There are nice new magazines for everything these days that are pitched smart but not expert. What would be the scientific equivalent?
posted by OmieWise to Science & Nature (48 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sceintific American.
posted by smich at 9:23 AM on July 15, 2005


Check out Seed magazine: science is culture
posted by golo at 9:28 AM on July 15, 2005


I'd second the Scientific American recommendation. Lots of articles on new physics, astrophysics, bio, biochem, genetics, sociology, archaeology, etc, directed towards the science-literate layman. Everything is explained at a level where anyone who's had some high-school and college-level science will have a good idea of what's going on, and there are lists of papers at the end of articles if you want to read the actual literature on a given topic.
posted by ubersturm at 9:31 AM on July 15, 2005


Nature might be worth considering.
posted by box at 9:32 AM on July 15, 2005


Personally, I like The Economist for politics and world events. It's much more in depth then Time or Newsweek.

As for science, you could try either Nature or Science. They are both like a high-light reel of the goings on in science, however these are mostly composed of papers that are thick with details. However, if you have time to pour over them, it's worth it.

Taking one step back from actual published papers, I would recommend IEEE Spectrum for electronics/electrical related stuff. The articles are geared towards professionals usually and so go into more depth then you would usually find in a popular science magazine article.
posted by toftflin at 9:36 AM on July 15, 2005


As an artist who has subscribed to Scientific American, off and on for years, I must also agree. Sometimes the articles are a bit dull, but for the most part (especially in the case of pre-existing interests) the articles where fascinating, and informative.
posted by iwouldificould at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2005


I like NewScientist and Discover.
posted by trevyn at 9:41 AM on July 15, 2005


Subscribe to Symmetry magazine. It's good and it's free.
posted by funkbrain at 9:51 AM on July 15, 2005


I was going to say that NewScientist is great, but really expensive since it's English and a weekly. But it's only $51 a year now. Did they drop the prices dramatically?
posted by smackfu at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2005


Sounds like NewScientist is the Economist of science mags.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:57 AM on July 15, 2005


Seriously seriously seriously, you want New Scientist (seconded, tripled, quadrupled). Fantastically insightful, not too pop, eminently readable, full of british whimsy and with fine humanist politics. It, Plan B, the New Yorker and The Economist are the finest magazines I've ever read.

I guarantee you'll have too much to read (which is great!), but they're fun to skim as well. And if the price is dropped - good god, how could you not?
posted by Marquis at 9:58 AM on July 15, 2005


Discover is lite beer, Scientific American is IPA, Science/Nature are Guinness. Seed is, I dunno, Red Bull. I tend to prefer Scientific American myself, and I think I would recommend it to you because it strikes the balance of smart but accessible that you asked for.
posted by matildaben at 10:00 AM on July 15, 2005


American Scientist is even further in the direction that Scientific American is from Discover, but not quite as far as Science is. Also, Sky and Telescope if that's your kink.
posted by mendel at 10:01 AM on July 15, 2005


They did dramatically reduce NewScientist's price a couple years ago. It used to be available at the $51 rate for students before that. There's actually a US edition now, with US jobs in the back instead of them just sending over copies of the UK edition.
posted by trevyn at 10:05 AM on July 15, 2005


You might add SciTech Daily Review to your internet rounds.
posted by LarryC at 10:06 AM on July 15, 2005


I like matildaben's beer analogy. Scientific American covers real science for the most part, but it has the breathless tone of a popularizer magazine. I would think that New Scientist is a better journal for your desires. It would be, I suppose, like Beck's. And it's true, the $51 subscription price is a steal!
posted by jasper411 at 10:09 AM on July 15, 2005


New Scientist is really, really good, but I buy Scientific American just as often. And I know it's not a science mag, (and I'm assuming you probably read it anyway) but National Geographic does really good science articles.
posted by gaspode at 10:24 AM on July 15, 2005


I like the New Scientist and also Scitech Daily, which is web-only.
posted by girlpublisher at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2005


This scientist says New Scientist. However for myself I'd probably read the more accessible articles at the front of Science and Nature. I find SciAm hard to get through for some reason.
posted by grouse at 10:26 AM on July 15, 2005


That's weird. It's New Scientist that has the tabloid tone, especially based on that Afshar issue that came out.
posted by Gyan at 10:27 AM on July 15, 2005


The New York Times Tuesday science section, and any major research university's PR or News Bureau. Cornell has a good one, so does Washington University, St. Louis, MO.

You will find an occasional item on my on-line magazine,
http://northcoastcafe.typepad.com

I survey the net for mainly health and environmental research before it breaks in the MSM. (Always looking for tips too!)
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2005


New Scientist. Only magazine I have seen fit to read cover-to-cover in years. I pay to get it air-mailed to South Africa, its that good.

Kwitchurbitchin about the price, its CHEAP compared to the UK price! Magainzes outside the US are expensive.
posted by Goofyy at 10:45 AM on July 15, 2005


I have none to add excepting to say that, if you don't want to buy a magazine, at least some of these sites listed above send out daily or weekly emails with story summaries. I think I get emails from New Scientist & Science Daily but I visit all the rest now and then and particularly like SciTechDaily (except for the ads).
If I was buying wood though, I'd go New Scientist because the articles are less overwhelming than Science and Nature (not that they are always over the top or anything but they can be IMHO) and it's cheaper I think.
And on preview: what Goofyy said.
posted by peacay at 10:48 AM on July 15, 2005


I would second American Scientist.

Scientific American used to be awesome but they tried to be Discover for a few years there and are only just now recovering. It's getting better but it's still pretty lightweight.
posted by bshort at 11:27 AM on July 15, 2005


Another vote for New Scientist - the only magazine I actually subscribe to.
Your local library probably has copies of all the magazines mentioned so far - why not check out a few copies and see what works for you before buying a subscription?
posted by yetanother at 11:34 AM on July 15, 2005


New Scientist is a nice bass ale. From the tap, not the bottle. Quite good.
The Nature News site is also great.
(All of which is just a twelthing of the above.)
posted by metaculpa at 11:37 AM on July 15, 2005


Hmm...as a physicist, I would recommend against New Scientist, because of the aforementioned "tabloid tone". It's not bad, exactly, but they sometimes have articles about ideas that are still in the realm of science fiction, rather that actual present day science. Not that it's bad to dream. But, we don't exactly have flying cars in our garages and pills for meals, either.

I would agree with the Scientific American, American Scientist (quarterly, but better than SA), Science, and Nature recommendations. Science News is also great.
posted by achmorrison at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2005


Thanks for the recs! I will be looking into all of them before buying, but wanted a sense of how people thought about which magazines to inform some of my reading. Leave it to matildaben to set the proper tone with her beer analogy.
posted by OmieWise at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2005


Well I'll chime in and be the only one to vote for the light beer. I had a subscription to Scientific American and found I really preferred reading other people's issues of Discover. So now I get Discover and I love it.

I'm not a scientistst. I know hardly any science and that made Scientific American a chore to read. Yes, it's lightweight, but that's what I'm looking for.

It will probably help you decide what you're looking for if you just go out and buy an issue or two of the suggested magazines.
posted by duck at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2005


I would recommend against New Scientist, because of the aforementioned "tabloid tone". It's not bad, exactly, but they sometimes have articles about ideas that are still in the realm of science fiction, rather that actual present day science.

I completely agree with this. SciAm all the way.
posted by jjg at 12:40 PM on July 15, 2005


Perhaps a little off-topic, but does anyone remember when Discover was actually a good magazine? Around the early to mid-90s there were some fine articles being published in it, but by 2000 or so it was starting to read like Popular Science. Or is the fact that I started my scientific education around then non-coindicental?
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2005


Which is funny because I'm more of a martini fan and not really into beer.
posted by matildaben at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2005


For general science, I do not know what works best for you. Maybe try this out. You can peruse and subscribe to taste. I personally favor the library and picking whatever shines to me eyes. See, I have this terrible streak of subscribing to a 'zine and as soon as I start receiving it becomes less interesting...
posted by carmina at 1:26 PM on July 15, 2005


I'll cast another vote for Discover. My (scientist) father likes it to read up on subjects outside his area of specialty and he has given (non-scientist) me a subscription for Christmas a couple of years in a row now. I generally devour the whole magazine within a few days of receiving it in the mail.
posted by tdismukes at 1:28 PM on July 15, 2005


I miss The Sciences.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:29 PM on July 15, 2005


Eureka Alert is a good site for just reading the latest science PR, as put out directly by universities, etc.
posted by blueyellow at 1:41 PM on July 15, 2005


It's not a broad detailing of all the latest findings, but I highly, highly recommend reading Edge. Fully online and free. Its yearly questions always make FPPs, but the monthly (or so) essays by scientists, mostly in physics, cognative psychology, or evolutionary biology, are very enlightening.
posted by Schismatic at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2005


Somehow botched that link: Edge.
posted by Schismatic at 2:18 PM on July 15, 2005


Nobody has mentioned Science News. It's a thin weekly (maybe 10 pages). Lots of very short articles that keep you abreast of what's happening, with ads for interesting science books. I don't subscribe anymore, but my dad has subscribed for years and really enjoys it. The articles are pitched perfectly for the intelligent layperson—short and to the point, but with just the right amount of background to get you up to speed.
posted by bricoleur at 2:35 PM on July 15, 2005


I agree with New Scientist and would make a mark against Seed. The first article I read was on an aspect of the type of science that I am involved in and I found it to have a few too many errors and a general tone pushing a rather suspect hypothesis.
posted by docgonzo at 3:33 PM on July 15, 2005


Thanks to this thread, I will have an issue of New Scientist arriving in 4-5 weeks. How exciting - thanks MeFi!
posted by jeresig at 3:59 PM on July 15, 2005


Wired magazine has a lot of science-related articles (as well as other non-science ones) that are written for the intelligent reader. It does not have all the latest science topics that Science would have, however, but it does have quite a few topics that Science does not.
posted by zenorbital at 7:43 PM on July 15, 2005


Discover is highly readable, and doesn't seem to have much of a political slant. Also, it's pretty cheap.
posted by slimslowslider at 9:14 PM on July 15, 2005


Ditto, Sallyfur.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:52 AM on July 16, 2005


Incidentally, the Economist has some of the best science reporting I've seen anywhere (just not very much of it). If you were considering subscribing to it anyway give it a boost for this reason.
posted by Aknaton at 11:38 AM on July 16, 2005


Popular Mechanics, Popular Science
posted by crewshell at 5:01 PM on July 16, 2005


re: NewScientist "but they sometimes have articles about ideas that are still in the realm of science fiction, rather that actual present day science.

I completely agree with this. SciAm all the way.


I third this. SciAm all the way, even if it is trying to be Nature
posted by sydnius at 3:50 PM on July 18, 2005


(I ordered New Scientist when this question was posted and I got my first issue on the 3rd. Not bad.)
posted by smackfu at 5:39 PM on August 6, 2005


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