Title page of Mary Somerville's
On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences
(1834), an early popular-science book.
Popular science (also called pop-science or popsci) is an interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is more broad-ranging. It may be written by professional science journalists or by scientists themselves. It is presented in many forms, including books, film and television documentaries, magazine articles, and web pages.
History and role
As early as 1830, astronomer
John Herschel had recognized the need for the genre of popular science. In a letter to philosopher William Whewell, he wrote that the general public needed "digests of what is actually known in each particular branch of science... to give a connected view of what has been done, and what remains to be accomplished." Indeed, as the British population became not just increasingly literate but also well-educated, there was growing demand for science titles.  Mary Somerville became an early and highly successful science writer of the nineteenth century. Her (1834), intended for the mass audience, sold quite well. On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences  Arguably one of the first books in the genre of popular science, it contained few diagrams and very little mathematics. It had ten editions and was translated into multiple languages. It was the most popular science title from the publisher  John Murray until (1859) by On the Origin of Species Charles Darwin.
Popular science is a bridge between
scientific literature as a professional medium of scientific research, and the realms of popular political and cultural discourse. The goal of the genre is often to capture the methods and accuracy of science while making the language more accessible. Many science-related controversies are discussed in popular science books and publications, such as the long-running debates over biological determinism and the biological components of intelligence, stirred by popular books such as and The Mismeasure of Man . The Bell Curve
The purpose of scientific literature is to inform and persuade peers as to the validity of observations and conclusions and the
forensic efficacy of methods. Popular science attempts to inform and convince scientific outsiders (sometimes along with scientists in other fields) of the significance of data and conclusions and to celebrate the results. Statements in the scientific literature are often qualified and tentative, emphasizing that new observations and results are consistent with and similar to established knowledge wherein qualified scientists are assumed to recognize the relevance. By contrast, popular science emphasizes uniqueness and generality, taking a tone of factual authority absent from the scientific literature. Comparisons between original scientific reports, derivative science journalism, and popular science typically reveal at least some level of distortion and oversimplification which can often be quite dramatic, even with politically neutral scientific topics.
Popular science literature can be written by non-scientists who may have a limited understanding of the subject they are interpreting and it can be difficult for non-experts to identify misleading popular science, which may also blur the boundaries between real science and
pseudoscience. However, sometimes non-scientists with a fair scientific background and strong technical communication skills can make good popular science writers because of their ability to put themselves in the layperson's place more easily.
Some usual features of popular science productions include:
Entertainment value or personal relevance to the audience
Emphasis on uniqueness and radicalness
Exploring ideas overlooked by specialists or falling outside of established disciplines
Generalized, simplified science concepts
Presented for an audience with little or no science background, hence explaining general concepts more thoroughly
Synthesis of new ideas that cross multiple fields and offer new applications in other academic specialties
Use of metaphors and analogies to explain difficult or abstract scientific concepts
Notable English-language popularizers of science
In alphabetical order by last name:
Diane Ackerman, poet, essayist, and naturalist whose nonfiction has explored neuroscience and zoology
John Acorn, naturalist and broadcaster known as the "Nature Nut"
Amir Aczel, Jewish author and mathematician
Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist and broadcaster
Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist, author, and science communicator
Alan Alda, actor, who inspired The Center for Communicating Science
Michael Allaby, writes on science, ecology, and weather
Elise Andrew, British blogger, founder and maintainer of the Facebook page "I Fucking Love Science"
Natalie Angier, science journalist and writer
Isaac Asimov, biochemist, science fiction writer, and author
Peter Atkins, a physical chemist and author
Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster
Francis Bacon, English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, & author
J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist is best known for his research on the etiology of sexual orientation
Johnny Ball, broadcaster and math popularizer
John D. Barrow, mathematician, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist; author of numerous journal articles, and books for general readers
Marcia Bartusiak, science journalist and author
David Bellamy, broadcaster, author, and botanist
Bob Berman, astronomer
Adrian Berry, science author and columnist
Tim Blais, physicist and YouTuber
Howard Bloom, author
David Bodanis, author
Liz Bonnin, biochemist and TV presenter
Daniel J. Boorstin, author and Librarian of Congress
Sir David Brewster, Scottish scientist
John Brockman, specializing authorship in the scientific literature
Jacob Bronowski, mathematician, biologist, historian of science, author, and pioneering science broadcaster
Michael Brooks, noted for explaining complex scientific research
Bill Bryson, author
Rob Buckman, doctor of medicine, broadcaster, columnist, author
James Burke, broadcaster, television producer, and author; best known for the science historian BBC TV series Connections
Nigel Calder, broadcaster and journalist
Dallas Campbell, Presented Bang Goes the Theory
Fritjof Capra, physicist and author
Eugene Thacker, philosopher and author
Sean Carroll, cosmologist, blogger, and author
Rachel Carson, marine biologist, conservationist, author
Manuel Castells, sociologist and writer
Marcus Chown, author and science journalist
Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author, inventor, and futurist
Brian Clegg, author
Jack Cohen, reproductive biologist
Heather Couper, astronomer, broadcaster, and author
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer, underwater explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, and broadcaster
Brian Cox, broadcaster, musician, and physicist
Michael Crichton, medical doctor, author, filmmaker
Francis Crick, molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist; joint discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule
Jon Culshaw, impressionist, also occasionally appears as a presenter on The Sky at Night
Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist and writer
Paul Davies, physicist, author, and broadcaster
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author
Michael DeBakey, world-renowned cardiac surgeon, innovator, and author
Daniel Dennett, philosopher, cognitive scientist and author
Alexander Dewdney, mathematician, computer scientist, and philosopher
Jared Diamond, evolutionary biologist, physiologist and geographer
Robin Dunbar, anthropology; evolutionary psychology, culture and language; and specialist in primate behavior
Marcus Du Sautoy, author, broadcaster, Professor of Mathematics
David Eagleman, neuroscientist and author
Sir Arthur Eddington, astrophysicist
Gerald Edelman, from the immune system, analogously, to brain & mind
Loren Eiseley, Professor of Anthropology and History of Science
Jordan Ellenberg, mathematician and author
Peter Fairley, journalist and broadcaster
Michael Faraday, scientist and lecturer
Kenneth Feder, archaeologist, skeptic, lecturer, and author
Timothy Ferris, science writer and best-selling author of twelve books
Richard Feynman, physicist and author
Brian J. Ford, biologist, lecturer, and author
Anna Frebel, astrophysicist and author
Morgan Freeman, actor and host for TV's Through the Wormhole
George Gamow, physicist, cosmologist, and author
Martin Gardner, mathematician, author, skeptic & polymath extraordinaire
Atul Gawande, surgeon and author
Malcolm Gladwell, journalist and author
James Gleick, author and journalist
Marcelo Gleiser, physicist and astronomer
Ben Goldacre, medical doctor, psychiatrist, and author
Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science historian; author of numerous essays, articles, and books
Steve Grand, computer scientist and roboticist
Hank Green, entrepreneur, musician, and vlogger
John Green, author and vlogger
Brian Greene, physicist
Susan Greenfield, brain physiologist, writer and broadcaster
Richard Gregory, neuropsychologist, author and editor of several books
John Gribbin, astronomer and author
Heinz Haber, physicist and author
Gunther von Hagens, german anatomist and pathologist, inventor of plastination and creator of Body Worlds
Thomas Hager, author and science journalist
J. B. S. Haldane, biologist and author
Jack Hanna, zoologist, broadcaster, author
Brady Haran, filmmaker
Yuval Noah Harari, historian, professor, and writer
Bas Haring, philosopher and author
Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author
Lucy Hawking, journalist and daughter of Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and author
Don Herbert, a.k.a. Mr. Wizard, broadcaster
Roald Hoffmann, chemist
Douglas Hofstadter, computer scientist, cognitive scientist, and author
Lancelot Hogben, experimental zoologist and medical statistician, with many popularising books on science, mathematics, and language
Sabine Hossenfelder, a theoretical physicist who researches quantum gravity
Fred Hoyle, British astronomer
Julian Huxley, eminent scientist, author, and first Director of UNESCO
Jamie Hyneman, special effects artist and TV personality ( ) MythBusters
Jay Ingram, broadcaster and author ( ) Daily Planet
Steve Irwin, wildlife expert and conservationist; TV personality of the worldwide-fame wildlife documentary TV series ( ) The Crocodile Hunter
Hope Jahren, geochemist and author
Ray Jayawardhana, astrophysicist and author
Donald Carl Johanson, paleoanthropologist and author
Steven Johnson, author
Steve Jones, evolutionary biologist and author
Horace Freeland Judson, historian of molecular biology and author
Olivia Judson, evolutionary biologist, broadcaster and author
Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and author
Sam Kean, author
Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Lawrence Krauss, physicist and author
Robert Krulwich, broadcaster
Karl Kruszelnicki, a.k.a. Dr Karl, broadcaster
Richard Leakey, Kenyan paleoanthropologist and conservationist
John Lennox, mathematician and author
Edward M. Lerner, computer engineer and author
Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist and author
Roger Lewin, British anthropologist
Richard Lewontin, evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and author
Chris Lintott, astrophysicist
Avi Loeb, astronomer and author
Bob McDonald, CBC journalist and host of Quirks and Quarks
Alister McGrath, molecular biologist and author
Katie Mack, astrophysics professor who focuses on studying dark matter
Lynn Margulis, evolutionary biologist and author
Robert Matthews, physicist, mathematician, computer scientist, and distinguished science journalist
Danica McKellar, actress, author, mathematician
Terrence McKenna, ethnobotanist, lecturer, and author
Peter Medawar, biologist, called by Richard Dawkins "the wittiest of all scientific writers" and by  "perhaps the best science writer of his generation". New Scientist 
Fulvio Melia, physicist, astrophysicist, and author
Ben Miller, English comedian and hosted shows such as It's Not Rocket Science (TV series)
Julius Sumner Miller, physicist and broadcaster
Mark Miodownik, materials scientist, engineer, broadcaster, and writer
Ashley Montagu, anthropologist and humanist, authored by over 60 books
Sir Patrick Moore, amateur astronomer and broadcaster
Desmond Morris, zoologist, ethologist and author
Hamilton Morris, pharmacologist, broadcaster, and author
Philip Morrison, physicist, known for his numerous books & TV programs
Siddhartha Mukherjee, oncologist, biologist, author
Randall Munroe, writer of What if blog
PZ Myers, professor and author of the science blog Pharyngula 
Yoshiro Nakamatsu, Japanese inventor
Jayant Narlikar, cosmologist and author
Steven Novella, skeptic and advocate of science-based medicine
Eugene P. Northrop, research mathematician and math popularizer
Bill Nye, actor, mechanical engineer, branded as "The Science Guy"
Tor Nørretranders, author
Sten Odenwald, astronomer, author, lecturer
Robert Olby, author and historian of science
Chad Orzel, physicist and author
Kasha Patel, comedian and science writer
Linus Pauling, biochemist, author, and educator
John Allen Paulos, mathematician and author
Fred Pearce, journalist at New Scientist
Yakov I. Perelman, author
Jean-Pierre Petit,a theoretical physicist who researches negatif mass and author Archibald Higgins science comics series
Wendell Phillips, archaeologist
Steven Pinker, experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and author
Phil Plait, astronomer and skeptic who runs the Bad Astronomy website
Martyn Poliakoff, British chemist, featured in the YouTube series The Periodic Table of Videos
John Polkinghorne, physicist and author
Robert Pollack, biologist and author
Carolyn Porco, leader of Cassini Imaging Team
Roy Porter, prolific work on the history of medicine
Christopher Potter, publisher, philosopher and author
Eduard Punset, politician, lawyer, economist, and science popularizer
Magnus Pyke, food scientist, broadcaster, and author
V. S. Ramachandran, neuroscientist, cognitive scientist, and author
James Randi, stage magician, skeptic, and author
Lisa Randall, theoretical physicist and author
Mark Ridley, zoologist, evolutionary scientist and author
Matt Ridley, zoologist, journalist and author
Alice Roberts, anatomist, anthropologist, television presenter, and author
Steven Rose, biologist, neurobiologist, broadcaster and author
Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author
Carl Sagan, astrobiologist, astronomer, broadcaster, and author
Kirsten Sanford, neurophysiologist and broadcaster
Adam Savage, special effects artist and TV personality ( ) MythBusters
Walter Warwick Sawyer (or W. W. Sawyer), mathematician, mathematics educator, and author
Eric Scerri, chemist, historian and philosopher of science, and author
Joseph A. Schwarcz, chemist, author, TV and radio host
Garrett P. Serviss, American astronomer and science fiction writer
Tali Sharot, cognitive neuroscientist and writer
Seth Shostak, astronomer, broadcaster, and author
Neil Shubin, paleontologist, evolutionary biologist
George Gaylord Simpson, paleontologist, zoologist and author
Simon Singh, physicist, mathematician, and author
Edwin Emery Slosson, chemist, journalist, and editor
Laura J. Snyder, historian, philosopher, and author
Mary Somerville, polymath, mathematician, and author
Paul Stamets, mycologist and author
Michael Stevens, science-based YouTube content creator
Iain Stewart, geologist and broadcaster
Ian Stewart, mathematician and author
David Suzuki, broadcaster, geneticist, and environmental activist
Lewis Thomas, physician, poet, etymologist, and essayist
Chriet Titulaer, Dutch astronomer, author, and broadcaster
Colin Tudge, biologist and author
Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and author
Kenneth Walker (author), surgeon and author
Fred Watson, astrophysicist, musician, and author
James D. Watson, molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist
Kevin Warwick, biomedical scientist, roboticist, and author
Michael White, musician and science writer
Norbert Wiener, mathematician, author; the father of cybernetics
Simon Winchester, geologist and author
Robert Winston, medical doctor, scientist, TV presenter, and author
Richard Wiseman, psychologist and author
Stephen Wolfram, mathematics, theoretical physics, scientific computing
Lewis Wolpert, developmental biologist, author, and broadcaster
Peter Wothers, chemist and author
Andrea Wulf, author
Paul Zaloom, the actor who portrayed an eccentric scientist on the children's TV show 1992-1998 Beakman's World
Carl Zimmer, science writer and author of the science blog The Loom  Marlene Zuk, evolutionary biologist and behavioral ecologist
Some sources of popular science
ABC Science - website owned by  Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Archibald Higgins - science comics series
- Are We Alone? Seth Shostak science radio program
- audio podcast program and website Ask A Biologist
- magazine BBC Focus
- TV series BBC Horizon
BBC Science & Nature - latest news in nature and science  
- a monthly magazine about astronomy aimed at amateur astronomers BBC Sky at Night
BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science - website of Arizona State University 
- providing all ages learning about the sciences; advancing public understanding; thought-provoking its many implications British Science Association
CASW: Council for the Advancement of Science Writing - increasing public understanding of science 
CBS News - Science 60 Minutes: Health/Science  Nature  This Morning: HealthWatch  Evening News: Health  Sunday Morning: Nature  
- Australian magazine Cosmos Magazine
- 1980 television series by Cosmos: A Personal Voyage Carl Sagan, with its companion book
- 2014 television hosted by Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Neil deGrasse Tyson based on the 1980 Carl Sagan series
- Canadian television series Daily Planet
- magazine Discover
Discovery - BBC World Service radio programme and podcasts  
- cable/satellite television channel Discovery Channel
- online magazine exploring scientific and intellectual ideas Edge
- museum in San Francisco Exploratorium
- comic strip Frontiers of Science
- digital 'science-lifestyle' magazine Guru Magazine
- website HowStuffWorks
Inside Science - BBC Radio 4 news stories keeping the audience abreast of important breakthroughs in science 
Inside Science (AIP) - syndicating research news and related topics for general audiences through the press, the TV, and the web 
- materials science and technology from many different perspectives Institute of Making
ITV Science News - videos, stories, and the latest live updates 
- a website featuring neuroscience articles, infographics, artwork, and videos Knowing Neurons
Leading Edge - BBC Radio 4 series explores the world of science, people, passions & policies; final edition celebrating Darwin's 150th anniversary 
The Life Scientific - Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work (BBC Radio 4) 
- weekly chat show on Resonance104.4FM in London; also podcasts Little Atoms
- syndicating major news outlets with an online news-magazine format LiveScience
- weekly science magazine on BBC Radio 4 Material World (radio program)
MITnews:science - Massachusetts Institute of Technology's recent news, featured stories, and videos 
- a magazine with authoritative journalism in clear simple language MIT Technology Review
- radio show and podcast from Mr Science Show China Radio International
- American TV series that seeks to confirm or debunk science-related stories, urban legends, viral videos, etc. MythBusters
- audience-interactive radio talk show The Naked Scientists
- news, images, videos, TV, and interactive features from the unique perspective of America's space agency NASA
- one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world National Geographic Society
- the magazine of the American Museum of Natural History Natural History Natural History Museum (London) - "Nature online - explore the natural world"
NBC News - Science Technology  Health  
- magazine New Scientist NHS choices - UK health "Behind the Headlines ¬ Your guide to the science that makes the news"
- television show on Nova PBS; PBS Science & Nature PBS NewsHour: Science  and the  TV spinoff Nova ScienceNow
Nova: science in the news - Australian Academy of Science making accessible, and looking behind the headlines 
- a series of YouTube videos featuring chemistry professor The Periodic Table of Videos Martyn Poliakoff
- available to every scientist, physician, educator, and citizens at home, in school, or in a library PLOS: Public Library of Science
- popular maths online magazine featuring the beauty and the practical; diverse topics such as art, medicine, cosmology, sport, puzzles & games Plus
- magazine Popular Mechanics
- magazine Popular Science
- short films Popular Science Historic Film Series
- Canadian radio show and podcast on Quirks & Quarks CBC Radio; CBCnews Technology & Science 
- Spanish-language magazine Quo
- listen, read, watch; imaginative use of radio and podcast making science accessible to broad audiences Radiolab
The Ri Channel - the Royal Institution, showcasing science videos from around the web 
- journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Science
Science (TV network) - cable/satellite television channel
- some of the best-known independent science bloggers within ten subject channels ScienceBlogs
- science fantastic Michio Kaku radio program 
- American radio show on Science Friday NPR; NPR Science 
The Science Hour - BBC World Service radio programme weekly digest of Discovery, , Health Check and Science in Action Click and podcasts  
- a popular magazine with editions in other languages Science Illustrated
- long-running weekly broadcast on BBC World Service Science in Action (radio program) Science Museum (London) - "Online Science"
- magazine Science News
Science Niblets - online magazine 
- especially educating children and covering many aspects Science World (magazine)
- magazine Scientific American
- magazine Seed
- a magazine published by the Smithsonian Smithsonian Institution
Startalk Radio - hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson
- magazine and website published by the EuroTech Universities Alliance Technologist
- American radio show and podcast This Week in Science
- documentary television series with Through the Wormhole Morgan Freeman
VOA News - Voice of America's latest news in science and technology and VOA's Science World  
WIRED - WIRED Science WIRED Science Blogs  WIRED UK Science   ZSL: Institute of Zoology (London) - "Latest News from Science" 
Science in the headlines
Notes and references
^ a b
Holmes, Richard (22 October 2014). "In retrospect: On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences". Nature. 514 (7523): 432-433. doi: 10.1038/514432a.
Baraniuk, Chris (28 June 2017). "Mary Somerville: Queen of 19th-century science". New Scientist. 235 (3132): 40-1. doi: 10.1016/S0262-4079(17)31271-X.
Strickland, Elisabetta (September 2017). "Mary Fairfax Somerville, Queen of Science". Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 64 (8): 929-31. doi: 10.1090/noti1569.
^ Murdz William McRae, "Introduction: Science in Culture" in
The Literature of Science, pp. 1-3, 10-11
^ Jeanne Fahnestock, "Accommodating Science: The Rhetorical Life of Scientific Facts" in
The Literature of Science, pp. 17-36
Dawkins, Richard (2008). . Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. The Oxford book of modern science writing 179. ISBN . 978-0-19-921680-2
Editorial (October 1987). "Peter Medawar (obituary)". New Scientist. 116 (1581): 16.
"Pharyngula". Scienceblogs.com. 2011-11-04 . Retrieved .
"The Loom". Blogs.discovermagazine.com . Retrieved .
"ABC Science" . Retrieved .
"BBC Nature" . Retrieved .
"BBC Science" . Retrieved .
"BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science" . Retrieved .
"CASW" . Retrieved .
"Science & Technology" . Retrieved .
"60 Minutes: Health & Science" . Retrieved .
"60 Minutes: Nature" . Retrieved .
"This Morning: HealthWatch" . Retrieved .
"Evening News: Health" . Retrieved .
"Sunday Morning: Nature" . Retrieved .
"Discovery Radio Programme" . Retrieved .
"Discovery Podcasts" . Retrieved .
"Inside Science" . Retrieved .
"Inside Science (AIP)" . Retrieved .
"ITV Science News" . Retrieved .
"Leading Edge" . Retrieved .
"The Life Scientific" . Retrieved .
"MITnews:science" . Retrieved .
"NBC Science" . Retrieved .
"NBC Technology" . Retrieved .
"NBC Health" . Retrieved .
"Behind the Headlines ¬ Your guide to the science that makes the news"
"PBS Science & Nature" . Retrieved .
"PBS NewsHour: Science" . Retrieved .
"Nova: science in the news" . Retrieved .
"CBCnews Technology & Science" . Retrieved .
"The Ri Channel". Archived from the original on 2017-11-29 . Retrieved .
"Science Fantastic with Michio Kaku News/Audio/Video/About/Listen Live". Talk Radio Network . Retrieved .
"NPR Science" . Retrieved .
"The Science Hour" . Retrieved .
"The Science Hour Podcasts" . Retrieved .
"Science Niblets" . Retrieved .
"Science & Technology News - Latest in scientific breakthroughs and gadgets - VOA News" . Retrieved .
"Science World" . Retrieved .
"WIRED Science" . Retrieved .
"WIRED Science Blogs" . Retrieved .
"WIRED UK Science". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08 . Retrieved .
"Latest News from Science"
McRae, Murdo William (editor). The Literature of Science: Perspectives on Popular Scientific Writing. The University of Georgia Press: Athens, 1993. ISBN 0-8203-1506-0