I have subscribed to Discover for over 2 years. I find it an excellent source of information. The information is presented in an easily accessible manner. It is nice to be able to sit down and read news "snippit" about advances in science. I also appreciate the links provided to access additional information on the web. Other magazines that I have subscribed to have been to narrow in their focus. I like to have info from all areas of Science. Does a great job of putting news items in Layman's terms without Dumbing it down.
Discover magazine since it's first edition has addressed the cutting edge of science. Written by knowledgeable contributors in a layman's language, the magazine discusses current breakthroughs in astronomy, biological and engineering concepts, as well as countless others. It primarily deals with facts instead of conjecture. Even though it will publish articles that are new and controversial, it attributes the opinion to the author. New medical procedures are debated and rated.
If you have a more technical background you might enjoy Scientific American, Psychology Today.
As a scientist/educator, I enjoy reading about current science being done in all fields, whether neuroscience or astronomy. We get so specialized in our fields sometimes, we forget about the other sciences which we are not personally involved in. This is one of the better science journals for laypeople who have limited background in most sciences. It's great for me, and I have a large background in most sciences. But so much happens in all areas of scientific endeavor that it is impossible to keep up with. So a magazine like Discover helps to close the gap on my personal ignorance in other areas of science besides neuroscience.
Discover is by the same people running Discovery Channel. Their information is good, they do the research, and they often broach difficult and contrary science concepts which may not be mainstream yet. Their writers and editors do an excellent job. My own personal favorite article each month is Vital Signs, from doctors about medical cases that may be strange or that need to be brought to the attention of the public. I always read that first.
This is a good magazine for high school students to have access to in addition to the regular science textbooks. The type of information given often makes science more accessible for high school students. They can see why someone would choose to go into particular fields of science, and why research is needed.
I do not always agree with the information given. Too many times, it seems that Discover and its editors promote ideas or new medical concepts/technology which has not been proven. As always, lay readers should be sure to get a variety of inputs and information, as well as second opinions before accepting what is said by Discover or any other source. An example of this is the retinal implant spoken about in 2001. Readers should not go asking their physicians about such technology for themselves, but should do as much research as possible prior to making a decision on experimental procedures.
University of Pittsburgh
Yes, the strongest appeal that this magazine has is its readability. The articles, however diverse they are, are not that hard to understand at all. I believe that even younger readers could read them without feeling offended and snobbed by the writing style. This is because Discover is intended for the general public. People who like a beefier telling of scientific issues should read Scientific American instead. But please note: I am not saying that Discover is kid-stuff. It is not.
Points of interest:
1.) In every issue, there is this Neuroquest, a very interesting one page "exploration of the inner workings of the human brain."
2.) The mag also offers Bogglers, a set of brain-teasers/puzzles to give those gray cells something to work on.
3.) And, Science Surfing, do I have to tell you what this is??
So far, all the Discover issues that I have have 92 pages, of which 17-18 pages were devoted to ads.
Discover is my favorite traveling magazine. The articles are at a level where they are engaging without requiring too much attention or time - perfect for killing time in coach on a trans-Pacfic flight.
The articles are consistently well written and almost invariably cover topics of general interest. I am an educated non-scientist who is interested in science. I can imagine that real scientists consider Discover scientific fluff, and thats fine. For a liberal-arts major/drop-out its right about my speed.
One final note - I love the "Vital Signs" feature where every month a doctor writes about a different patient with some mysterious malady and how it was investigated, identified and cured (or not).
Discover is well written well edited magazine for the scientificly curious. I like the format which covers news, papers and editorial statements. Discover is very readable and has topics that are both practical and theroetical in nature.
I love that it reports on all the sciences. As well it has a wide range of articles for many different levels of the scientific mind.
It challenges the reader but one can be farily non-scietnific and still read it. I us it as a sorce window into the sciences that I am not focused on such as biology and physics. But as well it has beautiful articles on chemistry and engineering. As well the issues are about interesting topics, which is on a genreal level. It is a great place to look if you want a genreal overview of new theories in the relm of science.
I like its dedicated sections like vital signs which are case studies about medical incidents.
As well I love the R and D news at the beginning. It is nice to see what is out there. The main articles are consise and not overwelming. As well you are often referred to article that are a priori and overwelming if you want to delve farther. I read each issue before the next one comes a rarity in the world of magazines.
I know a lot of people who criticize Discover for pandering to the masses, but I can't understand why anybody would complain about the editors making this publication more readable and easier to digest. I first subscribed to Discover more than a decade ago, and today's magazine has little to do with its tired, uninspired predecessor. Discover is fresher, brighter and more engaging than ever!
Frankly, there is a huge need in this country for a literate science magazine that makes its subject matter MORE accessable, not less. I am delighted when my issue of Discover arrives each month--I am assured a couple of hours of interesting reading. Who could ask for more from a very polished general interest science magazine? This is one of the biggest bargains in the periodical world. Keep up the good work, folks!
DISCOVER is one of a handful of general purpose magazines that appeal to those with a post-high school education but do not want to get bogged down in the erudite and detailed magazines that form their competition. I have been reading DISCOVER for many years, and although I am not a scientist, I do have a post graduate degree in English, so I recognize clear and fluent writing when I see it. The articles range from astronomy to biology to genetics and covers just about every branch of science under the sun. The authors know how to take a fairly complex topic and explain it on a level that is just about college freshman level. The tone is often breezy and actually interesting. True, the numbers of advertisements is disconcertingly large, but that is common to many such publications. In its coverage of hot topics in science that exposes the educated layman to the cutting edge of what passes for clarity in describing the world around us, DISCOVER simply cannot be ignored.
I've been a subscriber to Popular Science, Discover, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope and Scientific American for years now.
I'm also an on again, off again reader of scientific books. Primarily on Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics, Anthropology and Evolution.
Of the three magazines I tend to like Discover the best. Astronomy is a little to narrow and covers a lot of observational astronomy which sadly I have little time for anymore and covers too little of the "big pictures".
Scientific American is a close second but often the articles can be either too few or just too in-depth for what a general reader would care about (along with assuming you know what they are talking about rather than being longer, to help better explain to a layreader)
Popular Science should be called "popular technology" not popular science and so I think misses the mark (although it is an interesting magazine) and has WAY too many adverts.
If you can pick only one pick Discover.
Discover's strongest suit has gone unheralded in the other reviews I've read here. Few magazines let the character of their writers shine through quite like this one does, nor enliven potentially dry topics by injecting (God forbid) some imagination and humor into the subject.
For example, I could conceivably open up any magazine and read about how a particular species of octopus can change colors to camouflage itself. But only in Discover would that factual account be followed by a dreamy tangent about the nature of communication, and an alien species that might, say, communicate hunger by projecting an image of an empty stomach on their bellies.
So yes, I suppose if one was looking for a tome of molecular sequences and Calculus equations to display on their coffee table, one might find the above to be an unnecessary digression away from "hard science." I, on the other hand, prefer my magazine subscriptions to be enjoyable as well as informative.