Reviews For Scientific American Magazine

Keeping abreast with our life on earth

For anyone who wishes to be more involved with our life on earth whether it be our planet and how it was formed or the health of our body Scientific American walks you down the paths of your interest with fascinating articles to captivate each of us.

Great magazine

I decided to get a subscription after being assigned readings from the magazine for a college biology class. Very pleased with the magazine and the speed at which it was shipped.

Great magazine that is readable now

I used to read Scientific American 10 years ago and found it to be too technical.

Now it's written so that a non-Phd can comprehend it.

Spektrum der Wissenschaft!

"Scientific American" is one of my favorite mags. And yes, I get the English version. Despite its title, it is published in all sorts of countries, in several languages.
It is not a scientific journal. It lacks specialization; what it does is introduce important scientific issues to non-scientists, in language that's read easily, and full of information.

"Scientific American" covers every scientific topic imaginable.
Medicine (and all its subtopics), Evolution, Physics, Cell Biology, Genetics, Computer Science, Agriculture Sciences, Toxicology, Entomology, Paleontology, Anthropology, Chemistry (Bio-, Organic, etc), Sociology, Psychology, Astronomy, Quantum Mechanics, Space Technology, Mathematics, Ecology, Veterinary Sciences, and whatever else you want.
Other topics that come up are science-related business, scientific government policies, anything scientific the president says, and anything anyone does having anything to do with science.
They have it covered, and they'll tell you about it in language you can understand.

In any particular issue, they'll put in articles from widely varied fields. Using the April 2000 issue as an example, we have a cover story on quantum teleportation. Yes, they're talking about how they've beamed a photon from here to there. A photon, mind you. They proceeded to tell exactly why it would be impossible to beam a human.
These articles are written by scientists in various fields. They do research, and sometimes publish it in real journals (journals in their fields in which they lay out their complete research for their peers to examine). Their accounts of their research are not dumbed-down for "Scientific American," rather they are described like they would be described to friends and family.
Each article is filled with excellent photos and great, perfectly-understandable illustrations and diagrams.
Subsets in each article has further notes on elements of the article. An example of this from April 2000 would be the article on brown dwarf stars, which has a subset called "The Life Cycle of Brown Dwarfs." This is a great supplement to further explain the subject.

In our April 2000 issue we've got the quantum teleportation cover story. Other headline stories include:
* How to genetically-engineer a mouse who has altered neurology that makes it smarter and a more ready learner
* A description of how clinical trials really work: the ethics, economics, and real applications of the clinical trial
* Brown dwarf stars: what they are, how they're studied
* A particularly innovative kayak and its effects on the Aleutian society
* Satellites and how they monitor climate characteristics
* Neandertals and their probable interbreeding with 'modern' humans

a. News and Analysis, and News Briefs.
This part is very cool. It takes up about 10-12 pages in the front part of the mag, and in our example issue we have 1-2 page descriptions of breaking stories in the worlds of epidemiology, paleoanthropology, information technology, and aeronautics. News Briefs are blurbs on something that can be described in fewer words.
b. By the Numbers
This usually takes up less than a page, but it puts some kind of fascinating statistic into a graph or something very easily visualized.
c. Profile
Meet a very interesting scientist or author who's an expert in their field.
d. Working Knowledge
One of my favorites: something useful in daily life is finally described so that you remember it the next time you use it. April's highlight was "Cleaning agents: soaps and detergents." Pretty pictures of actual soap molecules and what they're doing to that dirt. Organic chemistry made beautiful.
e. The Amateur Scientist
Fun science project you could do if you really really really wanted to, and had too much time on your hands.
f. Books
Rockin' scientifically-oriented books for the scientifically-oriented masses.
g. Those nutty Morrisons and James Burke
Somewhat interesting essays from some nutty science people.

"Scientific American" is great fun if you can find something in there you're interested in. It's excellent for a long plane ride. The trouble with it is, NO ONE will be passionately interested in EVERY SINGLE article, because they're on such different subjects.
Have fun!


Great Science Magazine that has been water down by freelance journalists

I have been a subscriber of Scientific American for many years and I've read it on off ever since I was a high school kid in the 80's. Scientific American is a monthly Science magazine with a broad scope, and the current target readership are science interested laymen. It was founded in 1845. The major portion of the magazine (mid-section) is dedicated to science articles on, for example, physics, cosmology, medicine, ecology, earth science, archeology, economics, artificial intelligence, computer science, space technology, neuroscience, and much more. The magazine begins with editorials and letters followed by briefings from 50, 100, and 150 years ago, a science news scan (short articles on what is new in science), opinion, and then comes the science articles. The articles are typically in depth (more so then Discover magazine) and are typically several pages long. At the end comes an insight article, working knowledge (typically a tech briefing), reviews and ask the experts (question and answer). Scientific American also issues special issues on specific topics but those magazines are organized differently. It is important to point out that Scientific American is written by freelance journalists (not scientists) and it is not peer reviewed (like Nature).

In my opinion Scientific American has become more similar to Discover Magazine but is more in depth. The illustrations are great, the writing is interesting and of high quality, and sometimes they include nice graphs and maps. I like the fact that the topics are varied and include a lot of physics, cosmology, technology and medicine. The magazine is also easy to navigate. I personally do not care much for the opinion section or the letters to the editor. I want to educate myself more on science and find out what is going on which is why I focus on the science articles and the science news section.

However, I also have some misgivings about Scientific American. It has changed through the years in ways I do not entirely agree with. In the 80's and early 90's (and further back in history) the writers for Scientific American were not afraid of putting mathematical formulas, algorithms, statistics, and references to research articles in their articles. It used to be that it was scientists who wrote the articles (not freelance journalists) and the target audience was engineers and scientists not science interested laymen. I understand this is a business decision, but it does not seem like the real Scientific American anymore. Another problem I have with the "new" Scientific American is that it has become opinionated, both politically and in other regards. For example, the title of the recent special issue on evolution was "on the most powerful idea in science". Well, who decides that? Another example was the silly political attack on Björn Lomborg as well as the somewhat left-leaning opinion section. I still think Scientific American is a great magazine but I am glad there is also a "Nature magazine" and "American Scientist".

(Lean-n-mean 491 words)


Not A Nobel Scientist, but Not An Idiot Either

I wasn't around for the glory days of Scientific American, so I can't compare the magazine of the 60's to the magazine of today. I do, however, find SciAm interesting and often challenging. As a middle school science teacher, I do not specialize in physical, biological, or chemical sciences. As a generalist, I find Scientific American provides me with appropriate depth on topics that I wouldn't read about elsewhere. I especially enjoying bringing in new information to my classes and using the magazine to generate interest in atomic theory, space science, and scientific inquiry.

Amateur Scientist is one of my favorite columns to share with my brightest students. Last year an article about extracting DNA from onion cells became a lab experiment for my class. They felt like they were doing "grown up" science because it came from SciAm. The procedure was written clearly enough for 8th graders to follow and the supplies were readily available. Some of the projects are much more advanced and require tools not generally available in a middle school classroom.

The mathematical articles have been used as science fair project ideas for our gifted students. The diagrams in the math section seem to be clear and helpful.

The graphics leave much to be desired. Science is an incredibly visual field. Images can be breathtaking. (I am imagining the Hubble photographs in National Geographic). Even photos from electron microscopes can be incredibly inspiring. Unfortunately, visuals do not seem to be a priority for SciAm. Too bad. A combination of challenging and interesting articles combined with stunning graphics would no doubt bump up their appeal to the scientific masses.

Overall, I enjoy the magazine. I frequently find myself at odds politically with columnists who choose to invoke too much opinion on scientific discoveries, theories, or principles. I would rather hear the science speak for itself. Other than that, I plan to continue my subscription to SciAm and hope they hire a new visuals editor.


Your science source!


Quite awhile ago, we were on a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio. It started to rain quite a bit, so we stopped at a local mall. While there, my father decided to buy an issue of Scientific American. I was introduced to an excellent magazine. I am now a senior in high school, and I cannot wait to see the new issue each month.

Scientific American has the most interesting science news stories and information on new discoveries. The articles are excellent, filled with beautiful color photographs and diagrams. There are great monthly articles, like "Connections" and others.

My only complaint with Scientific American is the price, it is quite steep. However, there are not a huge amount of ads that clutter the magazine.

Overall, if you are interested in Science, be sure to check out Scientific American. You won't be disappointed.


Scientific American - Science "Lite" For Americans

"Scientific American" has been around for over a century, and it's retained its lay-person's approach to science since its founding. Basically, "Scientific American" presents current, or even cutting-edge science to people who are well-educated, but don't necessarily have scientific training.

The magazine presents a very balanced and wide variety of topics, including medicine, physics, astronomy, chemistry, anthropology and psychology. Articles can deal with either the practical aspects of a discovery, or entirely theory; you even get articles about the history of scientific developments.

About the only thing I would gripe about is "Scientific American" makes science seem easier than it is; one reason more Americans don't pursue it as a career is how hard it can be on your emotional well being. Suffice it to say, science is one of the few occupations that follows you wherever you go, at home, on vacation, even to your sickbed. You can't leave it in the lab when you go home at night, and that can be a killer.


Less depth, but still good

Scientific American was once a great magazine, but now it is just a good magazine. I read Scientific American as a teenager in the 80's, I read it as a student and as an engineer in the 90's and I am still reading Scientific American and subscribing to it. Even today I enjoy reading Scientific American very much, but I am not pleased with the fact that the depth of the articles has decreased.

In the olden days the writers for Scientific American were not afraid of putting mathematical formulas, algorithms, in depth analysis, and statistics as well as references to research articles in their articles. Today's Scientific American is not written by scientists, but by journalists and free lancers.

It used to be that scientists and engineers interested in fields outside their own areas of expertise were the magazine's target audience. Now, however, Scientific American is aimed at general readers who are interested in science. Scientific American is now looking more like Discover magazine. In my opinion Discover magazine and Scientific American should complement each other (in depth reading vs. light reading) and not be so similar.

Another wrong turn that they have taken is that they have become slightly political with a noticeable left-wing agenda. For example, the attack on Björn Lomborg should never have occurred and would have been unthinkable 15 years ago. Scientific American should be apolitical in my opinion. I understand that these changes were made for business reasons.

However, the illustrations are great, the topics are varied and include, for example, medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, cosmology, artificial intelligence, economics, geology, archeology, and social science. I am interested in all of these subjects, but I enjoy reading about physics, cosmology and artificial intelligence the most. I always find something interesting to read in Scientific American. I highly recommend Scientific American even though I would like them to take one step back with regards to the depth of the content.

Informative Info on Social and Physical Sciences

Scientific American is a good magazine for those who enjoy reading about modern science, advancement in technology and medicine, economic improvements, and anything else of a scientific nature. Each issue is about 130 pages in length and can be counted on to stimulate your intellectual curiosity.

One thing that makes Scientific American more appealing than other science magazines is the fact that it includes articles on more than just the physical sciences, like physics, chemistry, geology, etc. It also contains timely and informative articles on social sciences, like economics and politics. This adds a lot to the magazine's appeal, and it's one of the main reasons why I choose to read it each month.

One thing that might bother some potential readers of this magazine is that Scientific American does tend to present a mostly pro- government angle on the social and human interest stories that it presents. In almost every instance, the writers of Scientific American draw the immediate conclusion that only the government can possibly solve the pressing issues of the day. They don't even give much consideration to anything else. They immediately concede most any problem to the authority of the state.

In spite of the "liberal" leanings, however, I feel that Scientific American is still a very good publication to read. It includes puzzles that test your knowledge of science, book reviews on recent scientific book releases, and some good, well- written articles about science and how it relates to our day- to- day life. It's a good magazine for those who like to stay informed.