1 November 2012

A Black Hole called Eureka

In several posts (eg in January and August this year) I have been able to draw on articles in Eureka, a slim magazine enclosed in The Times every month addressing ‘Science, Life, The Planet’. November’s issue should have been out today (1 November) on the theme of ‘Blood and Guts’ – or so October’s Eureka promised. But the cover of The Times newspaper on 4 October told a different story:

Eureka’s 'Apocalypse' issue was literally The End as James Harding, the editor of The Times explained on page 2:
Today's edition of Eureka, The Times's science magazine, is as stunning and engrossing as ever. Sadly, it is also the last.  
Three years ago we became the first newspaper to produce a monthly magazine devoted to the wonders and inherent optimism of science. I am enormously proud of the scope, depth and quality of the journalism we have published in Eureka since then. From our first issue on science's solutions to the world's most pressing problems, to our last on the mighty natural disasters of the future, Eureka has given Times readers the powerful and visually breathtaking science coverage that they deserve - and that science deserves.  
The combination of high print costs and uneven advertising revenue has made this coverage impossible to sustain in its current magazine format. But we are more determined than ever that in other sections of the paper, and online, our unrivalled team will continue to bring you the most brilliant and beautiful science journalism to be found anywhere; journalism that is as inventive and ambitious as its subject.  
To adapt the strapline of the magazine, our commitment to science, life, the planet and everything that they encompass remains undimmed.
According to Private Eye a fortnight later, the Eureka “staff were told just an hour after they had put the magazine to bed that it was being closed down and this was the last issue.” Given the uncertain future of print journalism such an event was not so surprising and The Times had no other similar regular magazine insert. I’m not sure it didn’t fall into the trap of being too specialised for the majority, but not as comprehensive as say, New Scientist, for those with a particular interest in STEM. So far I haven’t seen much “brilliant and beautiful science journalism” in the main paper as a replacement, but it may come.

'Apocalypse The Disaster Issue of Eureka included super-volcanoes (Yellowstone), earthquakes and pandemics. It didn’t look at my favourite ‘low probability high impact event’, the collapse of one of the Canary Islands into the Atlantic with a tsunami threatening the North Atlantic periphery. But then they didn’t predict their own high probability low impact demise.

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