Scientific American
A magazine cover depicting a photorealistic view of the Earth, inserted into a melted ice cube, with the magazines masthead at top and a headline between the masthead and the Earth reading "Did Humans Stop an ICE AGE?" Beneath the headline in smaller type is the subheading "8,000 years of global warming"
Cover of a 1905 issue
DisciplinePopular science
Edited byLaura Helmuth
Publication details
HistorySince August 28, 1845; 178 years ago (1845-08-28)
Springer Nature (United States)
2.142 (2020)
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4Sci. Am.
OCLC no.796985030
"Men of Progress", published by the magazine in 1862, showing American inventors such as Samuel Morse, Samuel Colt, Cyrus McCormick, Charles Goodyear, Peter Cooper, and others[1]
Scientific American Office, New York, 37 Park Row, 1859, next to Munn & Co. on the right

Scientific American, informally abbreviated SciAm or sometimes SA, is an American popular science magazine. Many scientists, including Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla, have contributed articles to it, with more than 150 Nobel Prize-winners being featured since its inception.[2]

In print since 1845, it is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. Scientific American is owned by Springer Nature, which is a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.


Interior of Scientific American's office at 361 Broadway in New York City
Scientific American(('s) early office at 361 Broadway in Manhattan
A 1915 photo of Scientific American's office at the Woolworth Building in New York City, built in 1913 by Frank Winfield Woolworth[3]
The Scientific American building at 24-26 West 40th Street, commissioned by Munn and Co. in 1924[4]

Scientific American was founded by inventor and publisher Rufus Porter in 1845[5] as a four-page weekly newspaper. The first issue of the large-format New York City newspaper was released on August 28, 1845.[6]

Throughout its early years, much emphasis was placed on reports of what was going on at the U.S. Patent Office. It also reported on a broad range of inventions including perpetual motion machines, an 1860 device for buoying vessels by Abraham Lincoln, and the universal joint which now can be found in nearly every automobile manufactured. Current issues include a "this date in history" section, featuring excerpts from articles originally published 50, 100, and 150 years earlier. Topics include humorous incidents, wrong-headed theories, and noteworthy advances in the history of science and technology. It started as a weekly publication in August 1845 before turning into a monthly in November 1921.[7]

Porter sold the publication to Alfred Ely Beach, son of media magnate Moses Yale Beach, and Orson Desaix Munn, a mere ten months after founding it. Editors and co-owners from the Yale family included Frederick C. Beach and his son, Stanley Yale Beach, and from the Munn family, Charles Allen Munn and his nephew, Orson Desaix Munn II.[8] Until 1948, it remained owned by the families under Munn & Company.[5] Under Orson Munn's grandson, Orson Desaix Munn III, it had evolved into something of a "workbench" publication, similar to the 20th-century incarnation of Popular Science.

In the years after World War II, the magazine fell into decline. In 1948, three partners who were planning on starting a new popular science magazine, to be called The Sciences, purchased the assets of the old Scientific American instead and put its name on the designs they had created for their new magazine. Thus the partners—publisher Gerard Piel, editor Dennis Flanagan, and general manager Donald H. Miller Jr. essentially created a new magazine.[9] Miller retired in 1979, Flanagan and Piel in 1984, when Gerard Piel's son Jonathan became president and editor; circulation had grown fifteen-fold since 1948. In 1986, it was sold to the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group of Germany, which has owned it until the Springer-Nature merger. In the fall of 2008, Scientific American was put under the control of Holtzbrinck's Nature Publishing Group division.[10]

Donald Miller died in December 1998,[11] Gerard Piel in September 2004 and Dennis Flanagan in January 2005. Mariette DiChristina became editor-in-chief after John Rennie stepped down in June 2009,[10] and stepped down herself in September 2019. In April 2020, Laura Helmuth assumed the role of editor-in-chief.

The magazine is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States.[12][13]

In 2009 the publisher notified collegiate libraries that yearly subscription prices for the magazine would increase by nearly 500% for print and 50% for online access to $1,500 yearly.[14]

In 2013, Danielle N. Lee, a female scientist who blogged at Scientific American, was called a "whore" in an email by an editor at the science website Biology Online after refusing to write professional content without compensation. When Lee, outraged about the email, wrote a rebuttal on her Scientific American blog, the editor-in-chief of Scientific American, Mariette DiChristina, removed the post. DiChristina cited legal reasons for removing the blog.[15][16][17] The editor at Biology Online was fired after the incident.

The controversy widened in the ensuing days. The magazine's blog editor, Bora Zivkovic, was the subject of allegations of sexual harassment by another blogger, Monica Byrne.[18][19] Although the alleged incident had occurred about a year earlier, editor Mariette DiChristina informed readers that the incident had been investigated and resolved to Byrne's satisfaction.[20] However, the incident involving Lee had prompted Byrne to reveal the identity of Zivkovic, following the latter's support of Lee. Zivkovic admitted the incident with Byrne had taken place.[21] He apologized to Byrne, and referred to the incident as "singular", stating that his behavior was not "engaged in before or since".[21]

Zivkovic resigned from the board of Science Online, the popular science blogging conference that he co-founded with Anton Zuiker.[22] Following Zivkovic's admission, several female bloggers, including other bloggers for the magazine, wrote their own accounts, alleging additional incidents of sexual harassment, although none of these accounts were independently investigated.[19][23][24][25] A day after these new revelations, Zivkovic resigned from his position at Scientific American.[26]

Offices of the Scientific American have included 37 Park Row in Manhattan and the Woolworth Building in 1915 when it was just finished two years earlier in 1913.[27] The Woolworth Building was at the time one of the first skyscrapers in the city and the tallest one in the world.[28]

International editions

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American compressed air locomotive used in boring the Rove Tunnel, Southern France

Scientific American published its first foreign edition in 1890, the Spanish-language La America Cientifica.[29] Publication was suspended in 1905, and another 63 years would pass before another foreign-language edition appeared: In 1968, an Italian edition, Le Scienze, was launched, and a Japanese edition, Nikkei Science [ja], followed three years later. A new Spanish edition, Investigación y Ciencia was launched in Spain in 1976, followed by a French edition, Pour la Science [fr], in France in 1977, and a German edition, Spektrum der Wissenschaft [de], in Germany in 1978. A Russian edition V Mire Nauki (Russian: «В мире науки») was launched in the Soviet Union in 1983, and continues in the present-day Russian Federation.[30] Kexue (科学, "Science" in Chinese), a simplified Chinese edition launched in 1979, was the first Western magazine published in the People's Republic of China.

Founded in Chongqing, the simplified Chinese magazine was transferred to Beijing in 2001. Later in 2005, a newer edition, Global Science (环球科学), was published instead of Kexue, which shut down due to financial problems. A traditional Chinese edition, known as Scientist [zh], was introduced to Taiwan in 2002. The Hungarian edition Tudomány existed between 1984 and 1992. In 1986, an Arabic edition, Oloom Magazine [ar], was published. In 2002, a Portuguese edition was launched in Brazil. The Spanish edition ended in 2023 due to the worsening of economic conditions.[31]

Today, Scientific American publishes 17 foreign-language editions around the globe: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian (discontinued after 15 issues), Polish, Romanian, and Russian. From 1902 to 1911, Scientific American supervised the publication of the Encyclopedia Americana, which during some of that period was known as The Americana.

Some famous individuals who penned articles in the magazine included Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen Jay Gould, Bill Gates, Nikola Tesla, and more.[32] Charles Darwin was featured when he published On the Origin of Species, as well as the Wright Brothers when they were working on their flying machines.[33] The magazine also covered the U.S. through its Sputnik moment with the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, which symbolically started the "Space Age".


Special issues

Special Navy Supplement, 1898

Scientific American 50 award

The Scientific American 50 award was started in 2002 to recognize contributions to science and technology during the magazine's previous year. The magazine's 50 awards cover many categories including agriculture, communications, defence, environment, and medical diagnostics. The complete list of each year's winners appear in the December issue of the magazine, as well as on the magazine's web site.


In March 1996, Scientific American launched its own website that included articles from current and past issues, online-only features, daily news, special reports, and trivia, among other things.[citation needed] The website introduced a paywall in April 2019, with readers able to view a few articles for free each month.[39]


British Army reconnaissance airboat on the Tigris River during the Mesopotamian Campaign of World War I

Notable features have included:


From 1990 to 2005 Scientific American produced a television program on PBS called Scientific American Frontiers with hosts Woodie Flowers[40] and Alan Alda.[41]


Main article: Scientific American Library

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT No. 1100 January 30, 1897, featuring Canet naval guns for the Greek ironclads

From 1983 to 1997, Scientific American has produced an encyclopedia set of volumes from their publishing division, the Scientific American Library. These books were not sold in retail stores, but as a Book of the Month Club selection priced from $24.95 to $32.95.

Topics covered dozens of areas of scientific knowledge and included in-depth essays on: The Animal Mind; Atmosphere, Climate, and Change; Beyond the Third Dimension; Cosmic Clouds; Cycles of Life • Civilization and the Biosphere; The Discovery of Subatomic Particles; Diversity and the Tropical Rain Forest; Earthquakes and Geological Discovery; Exploring Planetary Worlds; Gravity's Fatal Attraction; Fire; Fossils and the History of Life; From Quarks to the Cosmos; A Guided Tour of the Living Cell; Human Diversity; Perception; The Solar System; Sun and Earth; The Science of Words (Linguistics); The Science of Musical Sound; The Second Law (of Thermodynamics); Stars; Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science.[42]

Scientific American launched a publishing imprint in 2010 in partnership with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.[43]

Scientific and political debate

In April 1950, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission ordered Scientific American to cease publication of an issue containing an article by Hans Bethe that appeared to reveal classified information about the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb. Subsequent review of the material determined that the AEC had overreacted. The incident was important for the "new" Scientific American's history, as the AEC's decision to burn 3,000 copies of an early press-run of the magazine containing the offending material appeared to be "book burning in a free society" when publisher Gerard Piel leaked the incident to the press.[45]

In the October 2020 issue of the magazine, it endorsed Joe Biden for the 2020 presidential election, citing Donald Trump's rejection of scientific evidence, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.[46][47] In the column reporting the endorsement, the magazine's editors said, "Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly."[48]


See also


  1. ^ Scientific American, Inc. (1862)Men of progress : American inventors presented to the subscribers of the Scientific American. Munn & Co. (New York, N.Y.), publisher.
  2. ^ "Front Matter". Scientific American, vol. 110, no. 1, 1914. JSTOR, Accessed 3 July 2023.
  3. ^ Scientific American, on the Move 170 Years, 11 locations—A map of Scientific American's wanderings around Manhattan
  4. ^ Scientific American, on the Move 170 Years, 11 locations—A map of Scientific American's wanderings around Manhattan
  5. ^ a b "Press Room". Scientific American. August 17, 2009. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  6. ^ "The Origin of Scientific American". Scientific American. August 17, 2009. Archived from the original on August 28, 2022. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  7. ^ "Scientific American archives". Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Beach, Stanley, Archives at Yale, Stanley Yale Beach papers, Number: GEN MSS 802, 1911-1948, under "Additional Description" section : Stanley Yale Beach (1877-1955)
  9. ^ Lewenstein, Bruce V. (1989). "Magazine Publishing and Popular Science after World War II". American Journalism. 6 (4): 218–234. doi:10.1080/08821127.1989.10731208.
  10. ^ a b Fell, Jason (April 23, 2009). "Scientific American Editor, President to Step Down; 5 Percent of Staff Cut". FOLIO. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  11. ^ "Donald H. Miller". The New York Times. December 27, 1998. Miller-Donald H., Jr. Vice President and General Manager of the magazine Scientific American for 32 years until his retirement in 1979. Died on December 22, at home in Chappaqua, NY. He was 84. Survived by his wife of 50 years, Claire; children Linda Itkin, Geoff Kaufman, Sheila Miller Bernson, Bruce Miller, Meredith Davis, and Donald H. Miller, M.D.; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild; and brother Douglas H. Miller. The memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 30, at 2 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco, NY. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice Care in Westchester, 100 So. Bedford Road, Mount Kisco, NY 10549.
  12. ^ Edmonds, Rick (August 27, 2015). "Can a magazine live forever? Scientific American, at 170, is giving it a shot". Poynter.
  13. ^ Edmonds, Rick (August 31, 2020). "Scientific American, the oldest U.S. magazine, hits another milestone as the appetite for science news heats up". Poynter.
  14. ^ Howard, Jennifer (October 13, 2009). "College Library Directors Protest Huge Jump in 'Scientific American' Price". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
  15. ^ Hess, Amanda (October 14, 2013). "Scientific American's Troubling Response to Its Blogger Being Called an 'Urban Whore'". Slate.
  16. ^ "'Scientific American' draws heat over 'urban whore' blog post". Fox News. October 14, 2013.
  17. ^ Jaschik, Scott (October 14, 2013). "When Does a Scientist Get Called a Whore?". Inside Higher Ed.
  18. ^ Byrne, Monica. Zivkovic said of the meeting, "within five minutes, it was clear that SciAm wasn't a good match for her professional goals. [He] stayed for the coffee out of politeness, but found her offputting and uninteresting as a person. So much emphasis has been put on the subject matter of their conversation, but for [Zivkovic] this was no different than talking to an entomologist about insects: all the writing samples she sent were related to sex and relationships. I was mortified to hear that she understood the conversation as inappropriate, and I did apologize, but not for harassment (there was none), for causing her any discomfort. As a naturalized American, I wasn't raised with all the subtleties that the American madonna/whore culture exposes. And I didn't understand how she could write and talk so freely about sex and yet be offended by our conversation, which was mild in comparison. My interest in her, sexually or otherwise, was zero." "This Happened", October 14, 2013. Retrieved on 24 October 2013.
  19. ^ a b Helmuth, Laura (October 17, 2013). "Don't Be a Creep". Slate.
  20. ^ Raeburn, Paul (October 16, 2013). "Scientific American blog editor admits to sexual harassment". Knight Science Journalism at MIT.
  21. ^ a b Zivkovic, Bora (October 15, 2013). "This happened". A Blog Around The Clock. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013.
  22. ^ Zuiker, Anton (October 16, 2013). "ScienceOnline Board statement". Archived from the original on October 21, 2013.
  23. ^ Cooper-White, Macrina (October 17, 2013). "Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American Blog Editor, Responds to Sexual Harassment Allegations".
  24. ^ Lee, Jane (October 17, 2013). "Shakeup at Scientific American Over Sexual Harassment". Archived from the original on October 17, 2013.
  25. ^ Sorg, Lisa (October 18, 2013). "The fall of Pittsboro scientist and Scientific American blog editor Bora Zivkovic". Indy Week. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013.
  26. ^ "Bora Zivkovic resigns from Scientific American" (Press release). Scientific American. October 18, 2013. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  27. ^ Scientific American, on the Move 170 Years, 11 locations—A map of Scientific American's wanderings around Manhattan
  28. ^ Scientific American, on the Move 170 Years, 11 locations—A map of Scientific American's wanderings around Manhattan
  29. ^ Dichristina, Mariette (July 1, 2015). "Dark Matter and the Shadow Universe". No. July 2015. Scientific American. Retrieved March 27, 2024.
  30. ^ Чумаков, Валерий (Chumakov, Valery) [in Russian] (December 24, 2020). "Ученый предсказал возникновение Сибирского моря. Кого затопит" [The scientist predicted the emergence of the Siberian Sea. Who will be flooded?]. «В мире науки» (in Russian). Retrieved January 5, 2021.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ "Investigación y Ciencia".
  32. ^ "Scientific American archives, Journal Article Nikola Tesla". Scientific American, a division of Nature America, Inc. 1934. JSTOR 24968452. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  33. ^ Celebrating Science Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina introduces the August 2010 issue of Scientific American
  34. ^ "A Century of Progress". Time. January 1, 1945. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008. Present editor and publisher (third in the line) is Orson Desaix Munn, 61, a patent lawyer, crack bird hunter and fisherman, rumba fancier, familiar figure in Manhattan café society.
  35. ^ Mott, Frank Luther (1970) [1938]. A History of American Magazines, 1850–1865 (4th ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 316. ISBN 978-0-674-39551-0. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  36. ^ "Munn, Charles Allen". Princeton University Library Finding Aids. Princeton University. Archived from the original on January 1, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  37. ^ Santora, Marc (January 17, 2005). "Dennis Flanagan, 85, Editor of Scientific American for 37 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2008. Dennis Flanagan, who as editor of Scientific American magazine helped foster science writing for the general reader, died at his home in Manhattan on Friday. He was 85. The cause of death was prostate cancer, according to his wife, Barbara Williams Flanagan. Mr. Flanagan, who worked at Scientific American for more than three decades beginning in 1947, teamed editors directly with working scientists, publishing pieces by leading figures like Albert Einstein, Linus Pauling and J. Robert Oppenheimer.
  38. ^ "Scientific American appoints Laura Helmuth Editor-in-Chief". Pressroom. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  39. ^ "Scientific American Launches New Paywall". @ScientificAmerican. April 15, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  40. ^ "Woodie Flowers, on season 1". Scientific American Frontiers. Chedd-Angier Production Company. 1990–1991. PBS. Archived from the original on January 1, 2006.
  41. ^ "Alan Alda, on season 4". Scientific American Frontiers. Chedd-Angier Production Company. 1993–1994. PBS. Archived from the original on January 1, 2006.
  42. ^ "Scientific American Library". LibraryThing. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  43. ^ "FSG, 'Scientific American' Roll Out New Imprint". Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  44. ^ "New and Notable". Skeptical Inquirer. 42 (3): 61. 2018.
  45. ^ Lewenstein, B. V. (1987). 'Public Understanding of Science' in America, 1945–1965. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, pp. 280–284
  46. ^ Martin, Rachel (September 17, 2020). "'Scientific American' Breaks 175 Years Of Tradition, Endorses A Presidential Nominee". National Public Radio.
  47. ^ Niedzwiadek, Nick (September 15, 2020). "Scientific American backs Biden in first-ever endorsement". Politico.
  48. ^ "Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden". Scientific American. September 5, 2020. Retrieved September 15, 2020.