New Scientist
New Scientist.jpg
New Scientist cover, issue 3197 dated 29 September 2018
EditorEmily Wilson
Total circulation
(2016 H2)
FounderTom Margerison, Max Raison, Nicholas Harrison
First issue22 November 1956 (63 years ago) (1956-11-22)
CompanyNew Scientist Ltd.
CountryUnited Kingdom

New Scientist, first published on 22 November 1956, is a weekly English-language magazine that covers all aspects of science and technology. Based in London, it publishes editions in the UK, the United States, and Australia. Since 1996 it has been available online.

Sold in retail outlets (paper edition) and on subscription (paper and/or online), the magazine covers news, features, reviews and commentary on science, technology and their implications. New Scientist also publishes speculative articles, ranging from the technical to the philosophical.


The magazine was founded in 1956 by Tom Margerison, Max Raison and Nicholas Harrison[2] as The New Scientist, with Issue 1 on 22 November 1956, priced one shilling (twentieth of a pound, pre-decimalisation in UK; £1.26 today).[3] An article in the magazine's 10th anniversary issues provides anecdotes on the founding of the magazine.[2] The British monthly science magazine Science Journal, published from 1965 until 1971, was merged with New Scientist to form New Scientist and Science Journal.[4] In 1970, the Reed Group, which went on to become Reed Elsevier, acquired New Scientist when it merged with IPC Magazines. Reed retained the magazine when it sold most of its consumer titles in a management buyout to what is now TI Media. In April 2017, New Scientist changed hands when RELX Group, formerly known as Reed Elsevier, sold the magazine to Kingston Acquisitions, a group set up by Sir Bernard Gray, Louise Rogers and Matthew O’Sullivan to acquire New Scientist.[5][6] Kingston Acquisitions then renamed itself New Scientist Ltd.

Originally, the cover of New Scientist listed articles in plain text.[7] Initially, page numbering followed academic practice with sequential numbering for each quarterly volume. So, for example, the first page of an issue in March could be 649 instead of 1. Later issues numbered issues separately. From the beginning of 1961 "The" was dropped from the title. From 1965, the front cover was illustrated.[8] Until the 1970s, colour was not used except for on the cover.

Since its first issue, New Scientist has written about the applications of science, through its coverage of technology. For example, the first issue included an article "Where next from Calder Hall?" on the future of nuclear power in the UK, a topic that it has covered throughout its history. In 1964 there was a regular "Science in British Industry" section with several items.[9]

Throughout most of its history, New Scientist has published cartoons as light relief and comment on the news, with contributions from regulars such as Mike Peyton and David Austin. The Grimbledon Down comic strip, by cartoonist Bill Tidy, appeared from 1970 to 1994. The Ariadne pages in New Scientist commented on the lighter side of science and technology and included contributions from David E. H. Jones, Daedalus. The fictitious inventor devised plausible but impractical and humorous inventions, often developed by the (fictitious) DREADCO corporation.[10] Daedalus later moved to Nature.

Issues of (The) New Scientist from issue 1 to the end of 1989 are free to read online;[11] subsequent issues require a subscription.[12]

In the first half of 2013, the international circulation of New Scientist averaged 125,172. While this was a 4.3% reduction on the previous year's figure, it was a much smaller reduction in circulation than many mainstream magazines of similar or greater circulation.[13] UK circulation fell by 3.2% in 2014, but stronger international sales increased the circulation to 129,585.[14]

Modern format

In the 21st century until May 2019 New Scientist contained the following sections: Leader, News (Upfront), Technology, Opinion (interviews, point-of-view articles and letters), Features (including cover article), CultureLab (book and event reviews), Feedback (humour), The Last Word (questions and answers) and Jobs & Careers. A Tom Gauld cartoon appears on the Letters page.[15] A readers' letters section discusses recent articles and discussions also take place on the website. Readers contribute observations on examples of pseudoscience to Feedback, and offer questions and answers on scientific and technical topics to Last Word. New Scientist has produced a series of books compiled from contributions to Last Word.

From issue 3228 of 4 May 2019 New Scientist introduced a new look, with a "slightly updated design, with ... a fresher, brighter feel". A dedicated "Views" section was added between news reports and in-depth features, including readers' letters, comment, and reviews on science, culture and society. Regular columnists were introduced, and columns in the culture pages. The light-hearted "Back Pages" includes the long-standing Feedback and The Last Word, puzzles, and a Q&A section.[16]

There are 51 issues a year, with a Christmas and New Year double issue. The double issue in 2014 was the 3,000th edition of the magazine.

Staff and contributors

Emily Wilson was appointed editor-in-chief in 2018.[17][18] Current staff members are listed on page 5 of the magazine. Columnists as of 4 May 2019 included Annalee Newitz on novel tech. James Wong on food myths, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein's adventures in space-time and Graham Lawton on environment.[16]

Editors of New Scientist