Popular science magazines: I read them, I like them. Sure, once in a while New Scientist comes out with something a little too kooky for my taste, but far be it from me to denigrate the drug-induced epiphany of an articulate philosophising scientist. I wouldn’t have any friends if I did.
Personally I’m more of a Scientific American fan myself anyway.
But after working in science communication for a couple of years, I began to notice certain patterns emerge from the covers of popular science magazines. How could I help it? Years of scientific training kick in, one thing leads to another, and I find myself writing the world’s first randomised popular science magazine cover generator!
(Anyone remember the random newspapers from SimCity 2000? They were also a source of inspiration…)
Every time you visit that URL a new page will be generated. If you happen to generate a cover you particularly like, the URL to create the same one is displayed under the title.
Now please don’t get me wrong: this isn’t some pompous exercise in sneering at popular science media. Because if there is a formula that the covers (and contents) do occasionally follow, it works for a reason, and the reason is that what many people really want from scientists contradicts everything you know about grant applications: screw practical applications, science — tell us something amazing.
Or failing that, that Einstein was wrong.
Comments, criticisms, bug reports and favourites welcome below.