Discover (magazine)

Discover (magazine)

January 2005 issue of Discover
Frequency 10 per year
Circulation 700,000
First issue 1980
Company Kalmbach Publishing

Discover is an American science magazine that publishes articles about science for a general audience. The monthly magazine was launched in October 1980 by Time Inc. It was sold to Family Media, the owners of Health, in 1987. Walt Disney Company bought the magazine when Family Media went out of business in 1991. In October 2005 Discover was sold to two media investment companies. Bob Guccione, Jr., founder of Spin and Gear magazines, served as CEO for the first two years, followed by[when?] Henry Donahue. It was sold to Kalmbach Publishing in 2010, and the current[when?] editor-in-chief is Corey S. Powell.



Discover was originally launched into a burgeoning market for science magazines aimed at educated non-professionals, intended to be somewhat easier to read than Scientific American but more detailed and science-oriented than magazines like Popular Science.[1] Shortly after Discover was launched, the AAAS launched a similar magazine, Science 80, (not to be confused with their similarly named journal), and both Science News and Science Digest changed their formats to follow the new trend.

During this period, Discover was a fairly in-depth science news magazine. Stories tended to be on "hard science" topics, and avoided fringe topics such as ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence). Most issues contained an in-depth essay by a well-known scientist, such as Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, or Stephen Hawking. Another common article was a biography, often linked with mentions of other scientists working in the field. One column, "Skeptical Eye," attempted to uncover various scams and flim-flam in the popular science world, and was the medium for James Randi to release his Project Alpha results. It was the most-read section of the magazine when it was first launched, according to its editor, Leon Jaroff.[1]

Discover was left largely alone in its market space by the mid-1980s, but nevertheless decided to appeal to a wider audience, including more articles on psychology and psychiatry. Jaroff, who had been managing editor for four and a half years, told the editor-in-chief that these were not "solid sciences", was sent back to Discover's parent, Time.[2] "Skeptical Eye" and other columns disappeared, and articles covered more controversial, speculative topics like "How the Universe Will End". This change in format appears to have been a great success, and the new format remained largely unchanged for the next two decades. The magazine changed hands a few times, landing at Disney until 2005 when Bob Guccione, Jr[3] purchased the magazine with private equity partners.

The April 2006 issue saw the introduction of a new design and new monthly columns (see Content). In 2007, Guccione was ousted as CEO, in what was described by the New York Post as "a falling-out over philosophical differences with his financial backers about how to run the company." [4] Henry Donahue, Discover Media's chief financial officer, became the new CEO. In 2008, he also assumed the role of publisher for the magazine. Corey Powell, the magazine's executive editor, became Discover's new editor-in-chief later that year.[citation needed]

As of April 2009, the magazine will publish combined issues in January/February and July/August. These double issues will count as two issues each.[citation needed]


Discover had a tradition of running one fake article in its April edition as an April Fool's joke. The articles were often so outrageous that they were hard to miss, yet the next month's issue frequently contained angry letters from readers who felt misled or quoted bad science. Examples have included the discovery of the "Bigon" [1] [2] (a subatomic particle the size of a bowling ball) and of the "Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer" (an Antarctic predator resembling a Naked Mole Rat that burrows through ice). Although the magazine stopped publishing new April Fool stories years ago, readers continue to inquire about them. See fictitious entry.


Monthly departments include:

  • Data (science news)
  • Sliced (article slicing the different parts of an object)
  • Vital Signs (real stories of health and medicine)
  • Field Notes (science in progress)
  • The Brain (neurological science)
  • Hot Science (books, films, museums, gizmos,and T.V reviews)
  • The Discover Interview (an interview with a famous/influential person)
  • 5 Questions For... (mini-profile of a young researcher)
  • What is This? (an odd looking picture asking the question "what is this?")
  • 20 Things You Didn't Know About...

Recent[when?] features have included articles on genetics, astronomy, energy, archaeology, physics, conservation, and psychology. The magazine's website includes additional content and science-oriented blogs.

See also

Blog Portal

The Discover website includes a collection of blogs related to science.

Several of these blogs—Bad Astronomy, Cosmic Variance, and The Loom—existed on other sites before moving to Discover.


  1. ^ a b Eugene Garfield, "Introducing Discover", Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:5, 16 March 1981, p.52-56
  2. ^ "Interview with Editor/Writer, Leon Jaroff"
  3. ^ "Bob Guccione, Jr."
  4. ^ "Guccione Jr. Goes From Penthouse to the Outhouse"

External links

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