Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Times' new science magazine: Eureka

Hannah Devlin at The Times prodded my via email to tell me about the new science magazine they have launched called Eureka. What a wonderful idea. I'm so glad to see a major newspaper take science so seriously. So, I ran out and grabbed a copy.

Oddly, the next day I received the following mail from Carrie Mash at Mindshare:


I've just been having a look through your blog and I wanted to get in touch as I think you'd be a fantastic audience for a new science magazine from the Times.

I am contacting you on behalf of News International who publish The Times and today they have launched a new Science Magazine called Eureka.

In order to make the magazine as informative as possible we are reaching out to the UK science community to help steer its editorial content.

As you are a passionate blogger, who discusses science/environmental issues, we invite you to join our online focus group and we would appreciate your feedback and comments about Eureka.

We are currently sending out free copies of Eureka to all members of the focus group. If you would like to participate in the program all you need to do is join the dedicated Facebook Fan Page and send us a postal address of where you would like the magazine to be delivered (UK Only).

The Fan Page will be monitored by the Eureka editorial team and over time we may even ask you to attend a focus group based at the News International offices in London. Please do treat the Fan page as a genuine feedback point; we will endeavour to respond to your comments as quickly as possible.

I am happy to answer any direct questions that you may have; in the meantime please feel free to share the news of the magazine with your blog readers.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Well, I don't have time to take part in a focus group, and I don't need a free copy (especially since it was given away free with The Times), and I love the bit where she gives me permission to blog about it ("feel free...").

But the magazine is worth reading, and having a science supplement to a major newspaper would be marvellous (although it appears that they plan to sell it). My only gripes are... the section highlighting people spent a lot of space of photographs of them and whitespace and not enough on the science they are doing. For example, in explaining quantum computing they get into quantum entanglement and Schrodinger's Cat yet fail to explain why quantum entanglement makes "a quantum computer lighting quick compared with a bog-standard PC".

The other gripe is about a fun little piece on page 5 called "The Quantum of Cool" where an attempt is made to make a funny scale going from 1 bogart (a thing that is very cool) to 1 bono (something that is very uncool). But the explanation of the scale is odd:

Here's how it works: The scale starts at neutral 0, equivalent to 0 millihanks (Tom Hanks, everyman), 1,000 millihanks equal 1 bradpitt, 1,000 millipitts equal 1 clooney, 1,000 millicloonies equal 1 bogart. Negative cool: 1,000 gumps equal 1 becks, 1,000 millibecks equal 1 cheney, 1,000 millichenies equal 1 bono.

(I assume that becks is referring to David Beckham.) Given that the prefix milli- indicates one thousandth this can be rewritten:

Here's how it works: The scale starts at neutral 0, equivalent to 0 millihanks (Tom Hanks, everyman), 1 hank equals 1 bradpitt, 1 bradpitt equals 1 clooney, 1 cloony equals 1 bogart. Negative cool: 1,000 gumps equal 1 becks, 1 becks equal 1 cheney, 1 cheney equals 1 bono.

So, that scale is totally broken.

But overall the magazine is great, and a great idea. I look forward to reading it each month.

Back to Carrie Mash. It was nice of you to write to me, but do you think you could reply to my mail when I reply to you with a question?


Martijn said...

What's that section there between politics and environment?

John Graham-Cumming said...

Thanks, Martijn. I am losing my mind.