After 90 years of effort, the job remains undone.
Since mimeographed sheets of science news articles were first distributed as the Science News-Letter in March 1922, our writers and editors have been embedded in the scientific process. We've recounted great steps in science's progress and the impact of technological snafus and natural disasters. Our pages have recorded the arrival of antibiotics, the discovery of antimatter, the surprise of nuclear fission and the atomic bomb. Satellites, space probes and lunar landings. DNA, gene-splicing, genome sequencing and cloning. Three Mile Island, the 1984 chemical catastrophe at Bhopal and the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear fiasco of 2011.
Throughout all these years, the purpose of Science News has remained the same: to tell everyone who is interested what scientists are finding out about the world. And to put those findings and their implications into a context that makes their significance to society clear. As articulated by E.W. Scripps, the journalist who was instrumental in founding the organization that publishes Science News, the institution's objective should be "to present facts in readable and interesting form"--not for the purpose of promoting any particular cause, but to provide readers facts upon which they could base their own opinions.
For the special anniversary section in this issue (Page 20), Senior Editor Janet Raloff (who has been around for nearly 40 percent of the magazine's existence) pored over the Science News corpus to identify the most noteworthy facts that we have presented to the public in interesting and readable form.
Space constraints allowed highlighting just a few of the many gems in our archival mine. But they are exemplary samples of the wealth of science that the last nine decades has witnessed, and of science's impact on human civilization and individual people. These reminiscences offer a reminder of how essential science is to the fabric of modern life. And they illustrate one unchanging truth about science: It is never static. News from science today continues to flow as swiftly as ever, and helping people keep up with it all is no less important now than it was 90 years ago. It's a task that society will need somebody to do for a long time to come, no doubt even longer than another 90 years.--Tom Siegfried, Editor in Chief