I have recently completed my first year as a subscriber to NEW SCIENTIST.  I read every single one of the 51 issues cover-to-cover.  Sometimes I got behind a few issues, but I would always manage to catch up, and I always enjoyed every single issue.  At the same time, I have been a subscriber of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for something like 15 years now.  I also read those issues cover-to-cover.  They are longer, but less frequent, coming monthly rather than weekly.  Between the two magazines, I feel like I have a good understanding of current scientific issues.

Having had a year to read through NEW SCIENTIST (NS), I here are a few thoughts on the differences between it and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (SA), beginning with a few obvious ones and moving to more subjective ones:

  • NS is a British publication while SA is American
  • NS is weekly, SA is monthly
  • NS typically runs about 50 pages, SA typically runs 80+
  • NS has shorter articles, but it more timely; NS articles are typically written by scientific journalists.  SA has longer, more in depth articles often written by the principal investigators themselves; they articles are less timely.
  • NS is stylistically lighter than SA.  Comments and commentary are often humorous.  SA is more serious (with the exception of the "Anti-Gravity" column.
  • NS has a stronger focus on climate change and global warming than SA.
  • SA has better regular columns (in my opinion) than NS.
  • NS has a better overall format than SA.  SA has recently changed editors and once again changed some of its internal format; I liked it better before the change.

Overall, I’d say I enjoy reading NS more than SA, although I look forward to reading both.  I think that by reading both, I get a balanced view of the world of science and the critical scientific issues of the day.

But I don’t just read them for fun or for improving my knowledge of science.  These magazines provide a wealth of ideas for stories and as a science fiction writer, that may be the most valuable service that they provide to me.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.