Fun_People Archive
22 Nov
The votes are in

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 100 12:57:40 -0800
To: Fun_People
Precedence: bulk
Subject: The votes are in

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649  -=[ Fun_People ]=-
[Chris Kantarjiev wrote in (to another list) soliciting recommendations
 for scientific periodicals.  The early suggestions didn't include my
 first choice, Science News, which is, imho, the definitive bathroom
 periodical for the scientifically alert.  But shortly thereafter, the
 votes started flooding in...  -psl]
Re: general science periodicals
From: "Andrew A. Gill"

On Tue, 21 Nov 2000, Chris Kantarjiev antagonized the horn and now...
> Three titles come to mind - Scientific American, Science, Nature.
> We're both computer geeks, but used to be a physicist and a biologist.
> What's the right one for us? :-)

*First off*

Scientific American is a magazine.  Science and Nature are journals.

There are several differences between the two:

1.) Magazines like SciAm are geared for the general populace.  You can
read one without trying to recall your last physics lecture.  Journals
are geared towards those who are in the industry.

2.) Journals mainly publish papers, while magazines publish
articles.  Check out to see what you'll find in

3.) Journals are more current than magazines, since the articles printed
in magazines are based off of those papers.

4.) Journals tend to cost more (a LOT more) than magazines.  A personal
one-year subscription to Nature costs $179 ($99 for students) in
the US.  SciAm is $25.

5.) Science comes out every other week, and probably Nature, as well.

As to which publication, Science and Nature are basically the same,
but Science comes from the US and Nature the UK.  Both are peer-reviewed
for decerased psychoceramics.  Some are not.  Proceedings of the [...]
typically aren't, so you'll get other stuff in those journals.

Looking at magazines, SciAm and Discover are popular ones.  Discover is
a little more low-brow, but many people read it, and you might want to
pe part of the discussion.  New Scientist is another one which seems to
have a more cutting-edge feel to it than Discover/SciAm (from what
I've read).  Finally, there's Popular Science/Popular Mechanics.  This
is basically porn.  People read this for a cheap thrill, not to get any
deep intellectual stuff.

There's also Science News, which is somewhere between journal and
magazine.  It's fairly glib (usually somewhere around 10 pages), and
anyone can understand it, but it comes out something like every week,
and prints summaries of interesting papers.  So you could get a
subscription to Science News, find out if there's been anything
interesting printed this week, and go out to the library and print the
papers that are.  Not to prejudice you towards SN.  If I were doing
this, I'd go with Science.

To sum up:

Science  - for people currently working on research
Nature   - for anglophiles currently working on research
Proceed. - for crackpots/Geniuses on Mars
SciAm    - for people who have their BS but went on to work for
NewSci   - for anglophiles who have their BS but went on to work for
           Demon Internet
Discover - for the general populace interested in science
PS/M/E   - for the clientelle of The Sharper Image
SN       - I don't know.
Re: general science periodicals
From: Steve Lamont

> Three titles come to mind - Scientific American, Science, Nature.
> We're both computer geeks, but used to be a physicist and a biologist.
> What's the right one for us? :-)

Science News isn't bad.  A friend of mine calls it the "Cliff's Notes"
of science.

Scientific American is a total loss, in my opinion.  It's been
considerably dumbed down and glitzed up to the point where its
graphics are about on the level of the average web page (well, maybe
not that bad but still pretty awful).

My SO subscribed for me and I'm allowing the subscription to lapse.

Science and Nature are pretty hard core -- we get them both here in
the lab.  Their primary coverage seems to be in the area of molecular
biology with a smattering of other sciences.  Enough As, Ts, Gs, and
Cs to make me curl up into a double helix and go to sleep. :-)

American Scientist has reasonably broad coverage.  It's the house
organ of the scientific research society Sigma Xi.  I've seen it on
some of the more well stocked newsstands.
Re: general science periodicals
From: "David M Chess"

I still take Scientific American, but they've succame considerably to
dumbing-down pressure: the articles are shorter (they lowered the
word-count, in fact, as we were in the middle of doing a piece for them;
rather painful!), there's more Culture and Society stuff and less Hard
Science (not that I mind Culture and Society stuff, but if Scientific
American becomes indistinguishable from the Atlantic Monthly what's the
point?).  It's still not a *bad* publication, but I can't unequivocally
endorse it.  I've just started taking Science News, which is very nice if
you don't have long stretches of time in which to read (part of my
enjoyment of it may be nostalgia of course; there were always lots of
Science Newses in the drifts of paper I was a child among).  I've never
taken either Science or Nature.  I've never taken New Scientist either, but
I've read numerous excerpts, and I'll second pozzo's recommendation; it
looks like good fun.  And of course you should consider the Annals of
Improbable Research!   *8)
Re: general science periodicals
From: "Elmer Smith"

I've subscribed to Science News for over 20 years.  It's about 14 pages per
issue, and published weekly by the Science Service, and covers meetings of
the learned.  It also abstracts articles that appear elsewhere, and
publishes original articles written by an in-house writing staff.  The web
site is  You can also order the magazine at
800-552-4412.  Caution: The magazine isn't cheap, because it doesn't have
much advertising; the list price is $ 49.50 per year.

This is also the organization that sponsors the annual Intel Science Talent
Search, formerly known as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search.

Re: general science periodicals
From: Dan Weinreb

You should consider Science News (, a weekly.  I
like their writers.  In particular, the guy who covers computer
science and math, Ivars Peterson, actually understands what he's
writing about and never (at least, hardly ever) makes flubs.  It's
very readable and has a lot of short articles (and a few long ones) so
that it covers a wide range.

Re: general science periodicals
From: Lenny Foner

I'll put in a plug for _Science News_, which has a zillion interesting
little squibs (and also a couple one- and two-page articles), all
properly sourced so you can -then- go find a copy of Nature (or
something much more obscure) to follow up if you want.  It's about 12
pages or so and arrives weekly---and frankly, it's generally what I
read -first-.  It covers everything from anthropology to zoology, with
good emphasis on physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, mathematics,
and computer science, plus occasional strings of stuff from, e.g.,
some major geology conference, or a biomedicine conference, or
whatever its reporters were at that week.  It'll probably only take
you 15 minutes to scan through an issue, and it's written for the
educated, scientifically-inclined person who isn't necessarily an
expert in each field it covers, so it neither drives you nuts
explaining elementary things nor generally assumes you know
specialized jargon that you may not.  (And interestingly enough, one
of my -least- technical friends recently saw an issue around my house,
then subscribed and reads it religiously, which means that its reach
is wider than I thought.)

It's a nonprofit, run by the people who do what -used- to be known as
the Westinghouse high-school science competitions (and now named the
Intel whosiwhatsis, feh).

More info at and
(although at this very instant the latter is unreachable; presumably
a temporary network problem w/their web server, given that the host
itself is pingable)

Re: general science periodicals
From: Keith Dawson

Well, there's also Science News. Weekly and slim. I also swear by the
weekly coverage in The Economist. It doesn't aim to be comprehensive,
as SciNews does, and is often off the beaten track. Always beautifully

Re: general science periodicals
From: Norman Walsh

You might also consider Science News ( It's weekly
and I think it does a pretty good job for broad, intelligent coverage.

Re: general science periodicals
From: Chris Kantarjiev

Thanks! That's probably the best summary I've received so far ... the
vote tally weighs heavily on the side of SN, so we may well start
there, pregnant chad notwithstanding.


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