Public interest in science has a long history, and SCIENCE NEWS has played a major role in promoting and feeding this fascination for more than 70 years.
The weekly magazine debuted on March 13, 1922, under the name SCIENCE NEWS-LETTER. Edited by Watson Davis, the first issue heralded the arrival of radio broadcasting by reporting the first allocation of radio wavelengths by the government. In several articles in that issue, it provided a glimpse of "the future of America's youngest, fastest growing, and most astonishing development." Filling 14 mimeographed pages, the newsletter also featured articles on observational astronomy, pneumonia vaccines, soil chemistry, and more.
SCIENCE NEWS-LETTER grew out of an effort to supply newspapers with timely reports on scientific and technical developments. In the early part of this century, newspaper coverage of science consisted largely of snippets of sensational fare or cute features about oddball characters tinkering in basement laboratories. In 1921, to help change this view, Davis teamed up with chemist and writer Edwin E. Slosson to found and edit the SCIENCE NEWS BULLETIN, which delivered material of scientific interest to newspapers. It quickly grew into a primary source of science news, eliciting numerous requests from libraries, schools, and individuals for direct access to the reports. The result was SCIENCE NEWS-LETTER, which could be obtained by personal subscription ($5.00 a year, postpaid).
Over the years that followed, SCIENCE NEWS-LETTER reported a wide range of scientific developments, from the early days of atomic energy to the beginnings of modern genetics. Its solid coverage helped make science reporting acceptable and respectable in both newspaper and science circles.
The magazine officially became SCIENCE NEWS with the March 12, 1966, issue. At that time, Watson Davis, still editor, noted," We shall be sending you a weekly letter that tells you succinctly, in words and pictures, the exciting and important progress of science research and technology.... A little later we hope to add a few more pages, but we pledge not to become larger than you can read in one sitting. (Readers have told us that they like the conciseness.)"
SCIENCE NEWS did expand a few months later to 24 pages but later reverted to the 16-page format it still has today. It now has an international circulation of more than 200,000 and remains the only weekly newsmagazine of science published in the United States.
To see articles featured 70 years ago in SCIENCE NEWS-LETTER, visit Timeline.