Tuesday, January 10

Sub-Scientific American

I have subscribed to Scientific American Magazine since the 1950s. I stopped my sub when an editor turned the magazine into his personal political rant. Finally he got replaced by a woman who seems to think the magazine’s mission is to write about science rather than left-wing social issues. Now the magazine has a blog that comes to my email box (since I’m once again a subscriber), and the blog is written by some amazingly incompetent people.

In the most recent issue, the first article in the blog is about charging stations for electric cars. The author talks about the stations using “220 volt” connections as opposed to 120-volt connections. The correct voltage is 240, since electrical distribution in the US is whole or half. (End-use American power comes in three flavors, 480, 240 and 120 volts.) The article describes a string of charging stations which will extend from British Columbia in the north to Baja California in the south. The author says it will extend to “Baja, California” as if Baja were a city. Quibbling minor error, but still ignorant.

The next article describes a new crop of televisions. It describes them as having 1.4 meter screens. In America, that means 55-inch screens (it’s Scientific American, remember, not Scientific European). The writer must think Scientific American readers are all metric-savvy in everyday usage. Not in my house. Go to any Best Buy or Costco and ask to see a 1.4 meter television and you’ll get a blank stare.

The next article has the headline, “Floating Wind Turbines Set to Conquer Deep Ocean.” The deep ocean needs wind turbines to “conquer” it? Bad headline.

Next, a review of the upcoming flood of laptop computers called ultrabooks. The author describes the term as being a vague, amorphous description of the computers which can be interpreted at anyone’s whim. In fact, the term Ultrabook™ is trademarked by Intel Corporation, and is very strictly defined as being computers that are 3.1 pounds or lighter, 0.71 inches thick maximum, and have at least 5 hours of battery life.

The rest of the email has articles that are beneath-high-school-journalism-class quality. The writers are lazy, the proofreaders are asleep, and the publisher simply doesn’t seem to care what is being published. Shame!


Susan said...

Sorry to hear their standard has not improved. Maybe you should suggest they should change the title to Sort Of Scientific American?

Tom Hurley said...

Or I could be KIND and call them KINDA Scientific American.