Sunday, February 17, 2008


The first thing a person must do to gain control of his own life is to develop a view of how the world works and of his place in it.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/02/1998 11:00:00 AM

Friday, February 08, 2008

Science Magazine

The ideal science mag: Not much of a change from today, more a change in format.

1. A science fiction story. This could flip between new stuff and good oldies, but all will be either hard (so the reader learns something about the world) or very speculative (so the reader is exposed to wild, yet not impossible theories). Occasionally you could do something sweet, like "Dance on a Forgotten Shore," to capture the emotions of science & discovery, but nothing too weird or convoluted. Clear, straightforward stuff. Length will be standard, not cut short for the format. In fact, you could even run novellas in serial.
2. An expository article every month. This would be nothing cutting-edge although it might (naah) be related to another article. Instead, it would explain in layman's terms some fact or principle of science. The whole purpose would be to explain, not to inform. Asimov's F&SF articles are exactly what I'm talking about here. Never condescend, or attempt to speak to the common denominator. Presume intelligence but ignorance. Run the gamut, but try to include topics like "What is a Wave?" "What is the Scientific Method?" "What is a Spectroscope?" "How Does a Computer Work?" Also, articles on the history of science and engineering, biographies of historical scientists, mathematicians, etc., and engineering expositories‚ where the readers learn some principle they could actually use—would be good sometimes. How did MacGuyver's tricks work? Let's stay away from current events—Newsweek can do those. Do not just gloss over to give a surface understanding. Don't get technical, but cover whatever topic you're discussing thoroughly. Again, Asimov is an excellent example.
3. Well-thought-out, in-depth articles. Let's hire science fiction writers and editors, and real scientists and engineers to write these. Journalists and science writers always seem to have the wrong take. Explain the issues well enough so that the reader can decide for himself if a viewpoint is valid. If the subject is too complex or technical for that, give it a good once-over and refer the reader to more in-depth information either within or immediately following (and in the same size print as) the text. The Web would be an excellent way to do this, either by providing a much more in-depth article (not a replacement, though; I don't think the current article text should be online) by the same author (preferred) or by posting related info by other people, and always providing links for further reading. Or you could refer them to scholarly journals, etc.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 8/10/1998 11:00:00 AM