Discover (magazine)

Discover is an American general audience science magazine launched in October 1980 by Time Inc. It has been owned by Kalmbach Publishing since 2010.

Discover (November 2014)
January 2005 issue of Discover
EditorBecky Lang
Frequency10 per year
Total circulation
(December 2012)
First issue1980
CompanyKalmbach Publishing
CountryUnited States
Based inWaukesha, Wisconsin



Discover was created primarily through the efforts of Time magazine editor Leon Jaroff. He noticed that magazine sales jumped every time the cover featured a science topic. Jaroff interpreted this as a considerable public interest in science, and in 1971, he began agitating for the creation of a science-oriented magazine. This was difficult, as a former colleague noted, because "Selling science to people who graduated to be managers was very difficult".[2]

Jaroff's persistence finally paid off, and Discover magazine published its first edition in 1980.[3] Discover was originally launched into a burgeoning market for science magazines aimed at educated non-professionals, intended to be easier to read than Scientific American but more detailed and science-oriented than Popular Science.[4] Shortly after its launch, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) launched a similar magazine called Science 80 (not to be confused with its flagship academic journal), and both Science News and Science Digest changed their formats to follow the new trend.

During this period, Discover featured fairly in-depth science reporting on "hard science" and avoided fringe topics like extraterrestrial intelligence. Most issues contained an essay by a well-known scientist—such as Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, and Stephen Hawking. Another common article was a biography, often linked with mentions of other scientists working in the field. The "Skeptical Eye" column sought to uncover pop-science scams, and was the medium where James Randi released the results of Project Alpha. Jaroff said that it was the most-read section at its launch.[4]

Competition and change

The sudden appearance of so many magazines in the same market space inevitably led to some falling by the wayside, and Discover was left largely alone in its market space by the mid-1980s, it nevertheless decided to appeal to a wider audience, by including articles on psychology and psychiatry. Jaroff told the editor-in-chief that these were not "solid sciences", and was sent back to Discover's parent, Time, Inc.[5] "Skeptical Eye" and other columns disappeared, and articles covered more controversial, speculative topics (like "How the Universe Will End"). The new format was a great success, and the new format remained largely unchanged for the next two decades.

Gilbert Rogin, a Sports Illustrated editor, was brought in 1985 to revive Discover. In 1986, Time purchased the subscription lists of the shuttered magazines Science Digest and Science 86 from their publishers. Circulation for the magazine reached 925,000 by May 1987 with revenue for 1986 being $6.9 million., but annual net loss were $10 million per year.[6]

In January 1987, Time appointed a new Discover publisher, Bruce A. Barnet, previously publisher of Picture Week test magazine from August 1985 to replace James B. Hayes, who was appointed publisher of Fortune.[7]

The magazine changed hands several times. In 1987, Time, Inc. sold Discover to Family Media, the owners of Health, Golf Illustrated, Homeowner, 1,001 Home Ideas and World Tennis, for $26 million. From January to July 1991, Discover magazine lost 15% of its advertising while still remaining profitable. Family Media closed down while suspending publication of all its magazines and place them up for sale. Family Media's last Discover issue was August 1991, with a circulation of 1.1 million copies.[8]

In September 1991, The Walt Disney Company bought the magazine for its Disney Publishing's Magazine Group. The magazine's main office was moved to the Magazine Group office in Burbank while leaving one third behind in New York in a small editorial and advertising office. Disney was able to retain Family Media's editor-in-chief for the magazine, Paul Hoffman.[8] Disney increased the magazine's photography (doubled) and its content budget to over come skipping 2 issues in Family Media's shutdown and ownership change. In 1993, Disney Magazine Publishing Inc. decided to launch a trade advertising campaign designed with advertising firm Ziff Marketing to raise awareness in the advertising field that the magazine is an accessible general interest magazine in the science category.[9]

In October 2005, Bob Guccione, Jr., founder of Spin and Gear magazines, and some private equity partners purchased the magazine from Disney. Guccione served as CEO and oversaw a redesign for the April 2006 issue. However, Guccione was ousted as CEO in October 2007 in what was described as "a falling-out over philosophical differences with his financial backers".[10] Henry Donahue, Discover Media's chief financial officer, became the new CEO. In 2008, he also assumed the role of publisher. In October 2008, Corey Powell, Discover’s executive editor, became editor-in-chief.[11] As of April 2009, the magazine published combined issues in January/February and July/August, for a total of ten issues a year.

In 2010 the magazine was sold to Kalmbach Publishing, whose books and magazines are generally about craft and hobby subjects such as modeling (Model Railroader, FineScale Modeler, Scale Auto, Classic Toy Trains, Garden Railways, Model Retailer) beadwork (BeadStyle, Bead&Button, Art Jewelry), and the outdoors (Birder’s World, Cabin Life, American Snowmobiler). It has one other science magazine, Astronomy.[2] In August 2012 Kalmbach announced that Discover would be moving from New York City to Kalmbach's headquarters in Wisconsin in January 2013. In December 2012, Stephen C. George became the editor-in-chief.[12] Becky Lang is the current editor-in-chief.

Blog portal

The Discover website includes a collection of blogs related to science, including Cosmic Variance, Carl Zimmer's The Loom, and Melissa Lafsky's Reality Base.

TV series

From 1983-1990, PBS aired Discover: The World of Science, a monthly hour-long news magazine featuring topics from the publication and hosted by Peter Graves.

See also


  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. December 31, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis. "Leon Jaroff, Editor at Time and Discover Magazines, Dies at 85", The New York Times, 21 October 2012
  3. ^ Bruce V. Lewenstein (1987). "Was There Really a Popular Science" Boom"?". Science, Technology, & Human Values. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b Garfield, Eugene. "Introducing Discover", Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:5, 16 March 1981, pp. 52-56
  5. ^ "Interview with Editor/Writer, Leon Jaroff", Teen Ink
  6. ^ Richter, Paul (May 22, 1987). "Time Will Sell Discover After 7-Year Struggle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "People Nation". Los Angeles Times. January 7, 1987. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Mulligan, Thomas S. (September 6, 1991). "Disney Will Keep 'Discover' on the Racks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  9. ^ Elliott, Stuart (October 15, 1993). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Advertising; The selling of Discover magazine hasn't been an exact science, but Disney will try a new approach". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Guccione Jr. Goes From Penthouse to the Outhouse", New York Post, October 10, 2007.
  11. ^ "Discover Magazine Builds New Staff in Wisconsin". Discover. January 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  12. ^ Welsh, Jennifer (August 17, 2012). "Discover Magazine Is Moving To The Middle Of Nowhere". Business Insider.

External links

American Prometheus

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer is a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2005. Twenty-five years in the making, the book was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. It also won the 2008 Duff Cooper Prize, Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and Discover Magazine Best Science Book of the Year.

The book's title refers to the legend of Prometheus, as mentioned in Scientific Monthly in September 1945:

Modern Prometheans have raided Mount Olympus again and have brought back for man the very thunderbolts of Zeus.

It is 721 pages from start to finish in the May 2006 paperback edition, but it also includes 32 pages of photographs.

The first edition however, also has 721 pages.

Andrea M. Ghez

Andrea Mia Ghez (born June 16, 1965) is an American astronomer and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. In 2004, Discover magazine listed Ghez as one of the top 20 scientists in the United States who have shown a high degree of understanding in their respective fields.

Andrew Revkin

Andrew C. Revkin is an American science and environmental journalist and author. He has written on a wide range of subjects including destruction of the Amazon rain forest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, sustainable development, climate change, and the changing environment around the North Pole. In March 2018, he joined the staff of the National Geographic Society as strategic adviser for environmental and science journalism. Through 2017 he was senior reporter for climate change at the independent investigative newsroom ProPublica. He was a reporter for The New York Times from 1995 through 2009. In 2007, he created the Dot Earth environmental blog for The Times. The blog moved to the Opinion Pages in 2010 and ran through 2016. From 2010 to 2016 he was also the Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University. He is also a performing songwriter and was a frequent accompanist of Pete Seeger.

Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer (born 1966) is a popular science writer, blogger, columnist, and journalist who specializes in the topics of evolution, parasites, and heredity. He is the author of many books and contributes science essays to publications such as The New York Times, Discover, and National Geographic. He is a fellow at Yale University's Morse College and adjunct professor of Molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University. Besides his popular science writing, Zimmer also gives frequent lectures, and has appeared on many radio shows, including National Public Radio's Radiolab, Fresh Air and This American Life.Zimmer describes his journalistic beat as "life" or "what it means to be alive." He is also the only science writer to have a species of tapeworm named after him (Acanthobothrium zimmeri). Zimmer lives with his wife Grace Farrell Zimmer and their two children, Charlotte and Veronica, in Guilford, Connecticut. Carl Zimmer's father is Dick Zimmer, a Republican politician from New Jersey, who was a member of U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1997.

Darleane C. Hoffman

Darleane Christian Hoffman (born November 8, 1926) is an American nuclear chemist who was among the researchers who confirmed the existence of Seaborgium, element 106. She is a faculty senior scientist in the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor in the graduate school at UC Berkeley. In acknowledgment of her many achievements, Discover Magazine recognized her in 2002 as one of the 50 most important women in science.

Dennis Overbye

Dennis Overbye (born June 2, 1944 in Seattle, Washington) is a science writer specializing in physics and cosmology.

Discover Magazine (TV series)

Discover Magazine is a 1992-2000 documentary television series that aired on the Disney Channel from 1992-1994 and then on Discovery Channel from 1996-2000. The series is named after the magazine of the same name, Discover Magazine. The Disney Channel series was narrated by actor Joseph Campanella. Discovery Channel series was hosted by Peter DeMeo from 1996-1998. The series was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Informational Series" in 1996, 1997 for "Outstanding Non-Fiction Series", and 1 other timeThe series was created by producer-director Les Guthman at the Walt Disney Company in 1991, after Guthman licensed the television rights to Discover Magazine from Family Media in 1990. (Disney subsequently bought Discover Magazine in 1991.) Guthman produced the series for two seasons on The Disney Channel, 1992-1994, and then working with Disney President and CEO Frank Wells sold the series to Discovery Communications in late 1994, after The Disney Channel abandoned its family-adult prime time schedule.

Ed Yong

Edmund Soon-Weng Yong (born 1981), commonly known as Ed Yong, is a British science journalist. His blog Not Exactly Rocket Science is published as part of the National Geographic Phenomena blog network. Previously his work has been published by Nature, Scientific American, the BBC, Slate, The Guardian, The Times, New Scientist, Wired, The New York Times and The New Yorker. He has been a permanent staff member of The Atlantic since 2015.

Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes

Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983) is Stephen Jay Gould's third volume of collected essays reprinted from his monthly columns for Natural History magazine titled "This view of life". Three essays appeared elsewhere. "Evolution as Fact and Theory" first appeared in Discover magazine in May 1981; "Phyletic size decrease in Hershey bars" appeared in C. J. Rubins's Junk Food, 1980; and his "Reply to critics", was written specifically for this volume as a commentary upon criticism of essay 16, "The Piltdown Conspiracy".

Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer

The Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer is a fictional animal invented by Discover magazine as an April Fool's Day joke.

A short article on the Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer first appeared in the April 1995 issue of Discover magazine. The article was written by Tim Folger, then an editor at the magazine. Folger wrote several other April Fool stories for the magazine, including a basketball-sized particle named the "bigon", and the discovery of prehistoric musical instruments— rhinoceros bladder bagpipes, a mastodon-tusk tuba, and a bone triangle—supposedly used by Neanderthals.

J. Davy Kirkpatrick

J. Davy Kirkpatrick is an American astronomer at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Kirkpatrick's research was named one of the top ten science accomplishments of the first ten years (1992–2002) of the W. M. Keck Observatory and one of the Top 100 Stories of 2011 by Discover Magazine.

Jeffrey Kluger

Jeffrey Kluger (born 1954) is a senior writer at Time magazine and author of nine books on various topics, such as The Narcissist Next Door (2014); Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio (2005); The Sibling Effect (2011); and Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 (1994). The latter work was the basis for Ron Howard's film Apollo 13 (1995). He is also the author of two books for young adults: Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats (2007) and Freedom Stone (2011).

Jill Neimark

Jill Neimark is an American writer.

Neimark has written one adult novel, a thriller titled Bloodsong, which was published in both hardcover and paperback and translated into German, Italian, and Hebrew. She has also published numerous children's books:I Want Your Moo (which was written with psychologist Marcella Bakur Weiner and won the 2010 Teacher's Choice Award),Toodles & Teeny which won a Mom's Choice Award for Excellence,The Hugging Tree,The Secret Spiral and The Golden Rectangle, among others. She co-authored, with bioethicist Stephen Post, Ph.D., Why Good Things Happen to Good People, which was translated and published in Japan, Brazil, Russia, Portugal, India, Sweden, and Taiwan.Neimark has also been published in the New York Times, Discover Magazine, Scientific American, Science, Aeon, NPR, Nautilus and Psychology Today on topics ranging from biology and physics to the mind and the soul. She has written poetry for the Massachusetts Review, Borderlands, Cimarron Review, and The New York Quarterly. She is a contributing editor for Discover Magazine, and has published numerous stories there on subjects ranging from human evolution to curing HIV. Her April 2007 cover story in Discover Magazine, "Understanding Autism" won the 2007 award from the Autism Society of America.The Secret Spiral was described by the award-winning kidlit blog, There's a Book, as a cross between Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll.

List of programs broadcast by Science Channel

This is a list of programs broadcast by the Science Channel.

Science broadcasts a number of science-related television series originally produced by or aired on Discovery Channel, such as Beyond Tomorrow, among others. Discovery Communications has also produced a few programs specifically for Science, such as MegaScience and What The Ancients Knew. Programs from other Discovery Networks channels, PBS and the BBC are either regularly or occasionally aired on the network. Television series produced in the 1990s, such as Discover Magazine and Understanding, are carried on the network's weekday schedule. Science also broadcasts programs such as Moments of Impact and An Idiot Abroad. The channel has experienced some drifting from its intended format throughout its existence, increasingly adding reruns on several science fiction series such as Firefly and Fringe to its schedule in recent years.

Michael Lemonick

Michael Lemonick is an opinion editor at Scientific American, a former senior staff writer at Climate Central and a former senior science writer at Time. He has also written for Discover, Yale Environment 360, Scientific American, and others, and has written a number of popular-level books on science and astrophysics, including The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos, Echo of the Big Bang, Other Worlds: The Search For Life in the Universe, and Mirror Earth: The Search for Our Planet's Twin.Son of Princeton University physics professor and administrator Aaron Lemonick and native of Princeton, New Jersey, Lemonick graduated from Princeton High School, and then earned degrees at Harvard University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He teaches communications and journalism at Princeton University. He currently resides in Princeton with his wife Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick, a photographer and photography instructor at Princeton Day School.

Silent Spring

Silent Spring is an environmental science book by Rachel Carson. The book was published on September 27, 1962, documenting the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting the industry's marketing claims unquestioningly.

Starting in the late 1950s, prior to the book's publication, Carson had focused her attention on environmental conservation, especially environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result of her research was Silent Spring, which brought environmental concerns to the American public. The book was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but, owing to public opinion, it brought about numerous changes. It spurred a reversal in the United States' national pesticide policy, led to a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural uses, and helped to inspire an environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Over three decades later, in 1996, a follow-up book, Beyond Silent Spring, co-written by H.F. van Emden and David Peakall, was published. In 2006, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover magazine.

Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek is an American writer, and editor of Breakthrough Technology Alert. He has previously edited Discover, and The Washington Post's magazine. He was founding editor and editor in chief of This Old House magazine for Time Inc., and was senior editor for science at Life magazine.He is co-founder and President of Arc Programs. He also writes for the Daily Reckoning.Petranek spoke at the TED conference in 2002, and again in 2016.His book How We'll Live on Mars was published in 2015.

Tim Folger

Tim Folger is an American science and nature writer. He is a contributing editor at Discover Magazine and writes about science for several other magazines. Folger has been the "series editor" of The Best American Science and Nature Writing yearly anthology since 2002. He won the 2007 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.

Understanding (TV series)

Understanding is a documentary television series that aired from 1994 to 2004 on TLC. The program covered various things understood from a scientific perspective and was narrated by Jane Curtin, Candice Bergen, and Peter Coyote. It originally aired on TLC and as of 2013 is currently being shown on the Science Channel. The series is presented in a similar fashion to two other programs that also show on the Science Channel, Discover Magazine and Megascience.

Major English-language science and technology magazines
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United States
See also

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