An on-line archive of articles published in The National Science Foundation’s flagship magazine from 1970 to 1992.
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by Warren Kornberg

MOSAIC MAGAZINE was launched in the winter of 1969/1970 by the National Science Foundation, the agency of the United States Government charged with the support of non-military scientific research and education. MOSAIC, under founding editor Jack Kratchman, was initially conceived as a house organ, designed to define the Foundation to its constituencies in government and the science community. A year later, under the editorship of Bruce Abell, the magazine began to focus more heavily on research projects pursued by Foundation grantees in the nation’s universities and research institutions. At first, the articles were all staff-written, by Abell, Thomas Dooling and, later, Barbara Tufty, with occasional input by other Foundation staff members.

When Warren Kornberg, who had been a science and science-policy reporter in Washington and then editor of SCIENCE NEWS came on at the beginning of 1975, first as special-issues editor and then as editor a year later, MOSAIC grew from a quarterly to a bimonthly magazine. Kornberg began early to rely heavily—and then exclusively—on a growing string of free-lance science journalists and writers who vastly expanded the scope of the magazine’s coverage. While the almost-exhaustive arena of Science Foundation-supported research remained a core, coverage grew to include much broader areas of research. The reporting often extended well beyond the borders of the United States and included extensive travel by the writers to enable then to spend time with the scientists whose work they were reporting, where it was going on.

Some of the seminal work on human contributions to climate change, for instance, began to appear in MOSAIC as early as mid-1975, in the first of the new special editions, on the growing world food problem. MOSAIC fast became the Foundation’s flagship publication, publishing article after article and issue after issue, not just on scientific projects, but on areas of research ranging from astrophysics and molecular genetics to climatology and coal liquefaction. Its goal was to provide scientists a place to keep up with frontier research in areas outside of their own specialties, written at a level at which the material would be respected by the scientists in the field but accessible to a sophisticated lay readership.

The roster of bylines in the magazine grew to a veritable who’s who of science journalism in the United States: Regular contributors included names like George Alexander, Tom Alexander, Joseph Alper, Peter Andrews, Marcia Bartusiak, Sandra Blakeslee, Mort La Brecque, Carla Carlson, William Check, Ron Cowen, William Cromie, Lucille Day, John Douglas, Ed Edelson, Lee Edson, Ann Finkbeiner, Arthur Fisher, Jeffrey Fox, Kendrick Frazier, Frederic Golden, Billy Goodman, Peter Gwynne, Allen Hammond, T. A. Heppenheimer, Blanchard Hiatt, William Hoffer, David Holzman, Sam Iker, Diane Johnson, Robert Kanigel, Warren Kornberg, Henry Lansford, David Leff, Roger Lewin, Randi Londer, John Ludwigson, Gail McBride, William Metz, Norman Metzger, Anne Simon Moffat, Derral Mulholand, Steve Olson, Ben Patrusky, Charles Petit, John Pfeiffer, Patricia Pine, Daniel Rapoport , Kenneth Reese, Boyce Rensberger, Leslie Roberts, Joann Rodgers, Albert Rosenfeld, Margaret Silbar, Henry Simmons, Jane Stein, Betty Vetter, Mitchell Waldrop, Wallace Waterfall, Fred Wendorf, Lois Wingerson, Susan Wintsch, Patrick Young, and David Zimmerman. The magazine design almost from start to finish was the work of Jan Born, and Sally Bensusen, a remarkable artist and illustrator, did many of the covers.

By the early 1990s, as the Foundation shifted its emphases, the kind of science journalism MOSAIC represented was no longer seen as necessary to the mission of the agency, and publication was, first, returned to quarterly publication and then discontinued, with the Fall 1992 issue. Individual articles from the magazine’s archives continued to be available until about 2003 when, despite the continued relevance of much of the material, demand fell off and the archive was discontinued. With the help of Fred Herzog (an IT consultant and science buff) and Ben Patrusky, it is being remounted and the articles being made available on line.

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Fri, Jan 19 2018, 10:49:37AM EST