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Forward into the Past

David Schoonmaker

Click to Enlarge ImageIt’s been a long time coming, but the magazine has finally arrived: American Scientist is now available at JSTOR. Not just American Scientist, actually, but its forebear, Sigma Xi Quarterly, is also included all the way back to Volume 1, Number 1, in 1913. For the moment, the JSTOR collection ends with the November–December 2005 issue, but each year, another year will be added to the collection at JSTOR. Meanwhile, the more-recent issues will continue to be available at American Scientist Online.

Unfortunately, the collection is a little short of complete. We are missing a few issues from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s and would be grateful for any leads you might know of to fill the gaps. We keep an eye on eBay and, indeed, have collected several issues there that we had been missing.

Those of you with access through your institution will enjoy the full benefits of the magazine’s presence on JSTOR, but even those who can’t read full text may find the site useful. Our initial experience with JSTOR’s search capability has been quite positive. It’s an excellent way to find that article that you’re sure you remember from some years ago. One tip: When you go to, you’ll see a list called Browse by Discipline. Click on General Science, and American Scientist will be near the top of the list. You may also notice that the only other general-interest, non-peer-reviewed science magazines available there are Science News and Scientific Monthly, which was absorbed by Science in 1957. Nice company.

I’d also like to give credit where it’s due: first, to my predecessor Rosalind Reid, who pursued this for years and was responsible for garnering the invitation from JSTOR, and second, to Morgan Ryan, the managing editor, who made it happen. Thanks!

Although it’s not quite so momentous as being archived at JSTOR, the magazine also recently fully joined the ranks of social media. American Scientist has had a Twitter feed for more than a year, allowing brief notifications of new content. In late June, we also created an American Scientist Facebook page. Posts there range more widely than those at Twitter. The editors take note when new information on a topic covered previously in the magazine appears in the media, and highlight what we find to be the best of science reporting. Readers are welcome to comment on entries there, as they are on material published at American Scientist Online. I honestly cannot decide whether all of this is making me feel younger or older. I have been a reluctant user of social media for some time. Indeed, my posts at the American Scientist Facebook page are infinitely more frequent than my personal entries. Still, it’s been interesting to watch the reach of the site expand. Things started very slowly, but the number of people who “like” the page grows at a more rapid pace as each day passes. If you’d like to follow it, we promise to keep the volume of posts small but, we hope, the content pertinent.

Finally, an erratum. Andy Cameron from Caltech wrote to point out an error in my last column. “It is not water temperature that determines the sex of an alligator during egg incubation. Alligators are reptiles, and they have terrestrial eggs. They would drown if immersed. The nest temperature is the factor. Indeed the nest is constructed of materials that undergo bacterial decomposition to raise the temperature. Another example of composting.” Rest assured that it was my error, not that of the Estuarium.

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