Newest Review: ... advertising, most of which has some kind of scientific base. If I have one criticism about BBC Focus magazine it's the cost. I really... more
Focus on Science
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
Advantages: Wide range of subjects covered.
Disadvantages: Close links to the BBC can be annoying at times.
I've been interested in science since I was a young kid harping at my mum and dad to buy me a microscope and a telescope. I never got the microscope or the telescope but I did get treated to the odd copy of Focus and it is a magazine that I still have a special place in my heart for.
It currently retails for around £4, if I remember correctly, but as I have a subscription, I save a fortune on the cover price. Subscription prices vary depending on current promotions and on which subscription website you buy it from, but expect to pay about £16 for a 6 month subscription or £30 for a year. There are quite often special deals on where you receive a free gift with your subscription if you subscribe directly from Focus, so it is worth a look around to see what you can get. If you just want to buy a single issue to try out, then you can find it in most WH Smith shops and my local large Tesco Extra also sells it.
Focus is a BBC Magazine which is something I'm sure it wasn't when I was a child. This means that now a lot of the articles are linked to programmes that are currently on the BBC. Sometimes, this is great. For example, a lot of the Physics programmes on the BBC are explained in greater detail in the magazine but at other times the links are tenuous. For example, a recent article on the science of deduction linked to the BBC production of Sherlock Holmes.
The magazine itself if written and researched by bona fide scientists and their credentials are given throughout the magazine but it is written for an audience that are not necessarily scientists themselves. It is by no means overly simplistic but it does assume a limited degree of knowledge. For me, this is great, as I'm not a scientist but for a scientist, it would perhaps be frustrating at times. Even, however, for a scientist, the range of articles is so wide that I doubt they'd feel constantly patronised. They may be a Chemist and be bored by the articles about Chemistry but might find some of the articles of Space Science or Physics relatively illuminating.
The nice thing about Focus is the News in Brief pages that give a quick lowdown on new scientific discoveries in various different fields. This helps a layman like me keep vaguely abreast of what's going on in the world of science without needing to bog myself down in hundreds of academic journals. There are also longer articles on specific and various topics. These articles are interesting but are something held back a bit by pictures or side panels interupting the flow of the actual article.
There is also a section for readers to write in questions (similar to that found in New Scientist) and experts will answer them. For tech heads, there is a technology section where a tech product such as cameras, TVs or telescopes will be reviewed in depth.
There are also book reviews, game reviews and discussion of internet sites and apps that are interesting or useful. In addition there is a bit of commentary of various issues written by experts in the field, getting a chance to stand on their soap boxes for a while.
The truly nice thing about Focus is that you never know what you're going to get. One minute you can be reading about possible alternatives to the Space Shuttle, the next minute you can be reading about super high tech cities being built and then you can find yourself reading about the psychology of horror and why we jump out of our seats at scary movies.
It is a lot more accessible than New Scientist and it is specifically designed to be this way. However, the close links with what's on TV can be frustrating at times but it is still definately worth a read for anyone with any kind of interest in science and technology.
Summary: A science and technology magazine aimed at non-experts.