Philosophical Magazine

Last updated
Philosophical Magazine 
Philosophical Magazine.jpg
Discipline Multidisciplinary
Edited byEdward A. Davis
Publication details
Former name(s)
The Philosophical Magazine and Journal; The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science
Publication history
Standard abbreviations
Philos. Mag.
ISSN 1478-6435  (print)
1478-6443  (web)
LCCN 2003249007
OCLC  no. 476300855
Titlepage of the first issue The Philosophical Magazine - 1st Series - Volume 1 - 1798 - Titlepage.png
Titlepage of the first issue

The Philosophical Magazine is one of the oldest scientific journals published in English. It was established by Alexander Tilloch in 1798; [1] in 1822 Richard Taylor became joint editor [1] and it has been published continuously by Taylor & Francis ever since.[ dubious ]

Scientific journal Periodical journal publishing scientific research

In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research.

Alexander Tilloch Scottish inventor

Alexander Tilloch FSA (Scot) was a Scottish journalist and inventor. He founded the Philosophical Magazine.

Richard Taylor (editor) English naturalist, editor and publisher

Richard Taylor was an English naturalist and publisher of scientific journals. He became joint editor of the Philosophical Magazine in 1822 and went on to publish the Annals of Natural History in 1838. He edited and published Scientific Memoirs, Selected from the Transactions of Foreign Academies of Science from 1837 to 1852. In 1852 he was joined by the chemist, Dr William Francis to form Taylor and Francis.


Early history

The name of the journal dates from a period when "natural philosophy" embraced all aspects of science. The very first paper published in the journal carried the title "Account of Mr Cartwright's Patent Steam Engine". Other articles in the first volume include "Methods of discovering whether Wine has been adulterated with any Metals prejudicial to Health" and "Description of the Apparatus used by Lavoisier to produce Water from its component Parts, Oxygen and Hydrogen".

19th century

Early in the nineteenth century, classic papers by Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday and James Prescott Joule appeared in the journal and in the 1860s James Clerk Maxwell contributed several long articles, culminating in a paper containing the deduction that light is an electromagnetic wave or, as he put it himself, "We can scarcely avoid the inference that light consists in transverse undulations of the same medium which is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena". The famous experimental paper of Albert A. Michelson and Edward Morley was published in 1887 and this was followed ten years later by J. J. Thomson with article "Cathode Rays" – essentially the discovery of the electron.

Humphry Davy English chemist

Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet was a Cornish chemist and inventor, who is best remembered today for isolating, using electricity, a series of elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. He also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry. In 1799 Davy experimented with nitrous oxide and was astonished at how it made him laugh, so he nicknamed it "laughing gas", and wrote about its potential anaesthetic properties in relieving pain during surgery.

Michael Faraday English scientist

Michael Faraday FRS was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

James Prescott Joule English physicist and brewer

James Prescott Joule was an English physicist, mathematician and brewer, born in Salford, Lancashire. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work. This led to the law of conservation of energy, which in turn led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after him.

In 1814, the Philosophical Magazine merged with the Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts , otherwise known as Nicholson's Journal (published by William Nicholson), to form The Philosophical Magazine and Journal. [2] Further mergers in 1827 with the Annals of Philosophy , and in 1840 with The London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science (named the Edinburgh Journal of Science until 1832) led to the retitling of the journal as The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science. In 1949, the title reverted to The Philosophical Magazine.

<i>Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts</i> scientific journal between 1787 and 1814, merged with Philosophical Magazine

The A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts, generally known as Nicholson's Journal, was the first monthly scientific journal in Great Britain. William Nicholson began it in 1797 and was the editor until it merged with another journal in January 1814.

William Nicholson (chemist)

William Nicholson was a renowned English chemist and writer on "natural philosophy" and chemistry, as well as a translator, journalist, publisher, scientist, inventor, patent agent and civil engineer.

Annals of Philosophy was a learned journal founded in 1813 by the Scottish chemist Thomas Thomson. It shortly became a leader in its field of commercial scientific periodicals. Contributors included John George Children, Edward Daniel Clarke, Philip Crampton, Alexander Crichton, James Cumming, John Herapath, William George Horner, Thomas Dick Lauder, John Miers, Matthew Paul Moyle, Robert Porrett, James Thomson, and Charles Wheatstone.

20th century

In the early part of the 20th century, Ernest Rutherford was a frequent contributor. He once told a friend to "watch out for the next issue of Philosophical Magazine; it is highly radioactive!" Aside from his work on understanding radioactivity, Rutherford proposed the experiments of Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden that verified his nuclear model of the atom and led to Niels Bohr's famous paper on planetary electrons, which was published in the journal in 1913. Another classic contribution from Rutherford was entitled "Collision of α Particles with Light Atoms. IV. An Anomalous Effect in Nitrogen" – an article describing no less than the discovery of the proton, which he named a year later.

Hans Geiger German physicist

Johannes Wilhelm "Hans" Geiger was a German physicist. He is best known as the co-inventor of the detector component of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered the atomic nucleus. He was the brother of meteorologist and climatologist Rudolf Geiger.

Ernest Marsden British physicist

Sir Ernest Marsden was an English-New Zealand physicist. He is recognised internationally for his contributions to science while working under Ernest Rutherford, which led to the discovery of new theories on the structure of the atom. In Marsden's later work in New Zealand, he became a significant member of the scientific community, while maintaining close links to the United Kingdom.

Atom smallest unit of a chemical element

An atom is the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter that constitutes a chemical element. Every solid, liquid, gas, and plasma is composed of neutral or ionized atoms. Atoms are extremely small; typical sizes are around 100 picometers. They are so small that accurately predicting their behavior using classical physics – as if they were billiard balls, for example – is not possible. This is due to quantum effects. Current atomic models now use quantum principles to better explain and predict this behavior.

In 1978 the journal was divided into two independent parts, Philosophical Magazine A and Philosophical Magazine B. Part A published papers on structure, defects and mechanical properties while Part B focussed on statistical mechanics, electronic, optical and magnetic properties.

Structure arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in an object or system, or the object or system so organized

Structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system, or the object or system so organized. Material structures include man-made objects such as buildings and machines and natural objects such as biological organisms, minerals and chemicals. Abstract structures include data structures in computer science and musical form. Types of structure include a hierarchy, a network featuring many-to-many links, or a lattice featuring connections between components that are neighbors in space.

Statistical mechanics is one of the pillars of modern physics. It is necessary for the fundamental study of any physical system that has a large number of degrees of freedom. The approach is based on statistical methods, probability theory and the microscopic physical laws.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter.

Recent developments

Since the middle of the 20th century, the journal has focused on condensed matter physics and published significant papers on dislocations, mechanical properties of solids, amorphous semiconductors and glasses. As subject area evolved and it became more difficult to classify research into distinct areas, it was no longer considered necessary to publish the journal in two parts, so in 2003 parts A and B were re-merged. In its current form, 36 issues of the Philosophical Magazine are published each year, supplemented by 12 issues of Philosophical Magazine Letters.

Condensed matter physics branch of physics

Condensed matter physics is the field of physics that deals with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of matter. In particular it is concerned with the "condensed" phases that appear whenever the number of constituents in a system is extremely large and the interactions between the constituents are strong. The most familiar examples of condensed phases are solids and liquids, which arise from the electromagnetic forces between atoms. Condensed matter physicists seek to understand the behavior of these phases by using physical laws. In particular, they include the laws of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and statistical mechanics.

Mechanics is the area of science concerned with the behaviour of physical bodies when subjected to forces or displacements, and the subsequent effects of the bodies on their environment. The scientific discipline has its origins in Ancient Greece with the writings of Aristotle and Archimedes. During the early modern period, scientists such as Galileo, Kepler, and Newton laid the foundation for what is now known as classical mechanics. It is a branch of classical physics that deals with particles that are either at rest or are moving with velocities significantly less than the speed of light. It can also be defined as a branch of science which deals with the motion of and forces on objects. The field is yet less widely understood in terms of quantum theory.

Glasses accessories that improve vision

Glasses, also known as eyeglasses or spectacles, are devices consisting of glass or hard plastic lenses mounted in a frame that holds them in front of a person's eyes, typically using a bridge over the nose and arms which rest over the ears.


Previous editors of the Philosophical Magazine have been John Tyndall, J.J. Thomson, Sir Nevill Mott, and William Lawrence Bragg. The journal is currently edited by Edward A. Davis.

Philosophical Magazine Letters

In 1987, the sister journal Philosophical Magazine Letters was established with the aim of rapidly publishing short communications on all aspects of condensed matter physics. It is edited by Edward A. Davis and Peter Riseborough. This monthly journal had a 2014 impact factor of 1.087.


Over its 200-year history, Philosophical Magazine has occasionally restarted its volume numbers at 1, designating a new 'series" each time. The journal's series are as follows:

If the renumbering had not occurred, the 2015 volume (series 8, volume 95) would have been volume 407.

Related Research Articles


  1. 1 2 John Burnett, "Tilloch, Alexander (1759–1825)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006, accessed 17 Feb 2010
  2. see the "Advertisement" at the start of Volume 42 of The Philosophical Magazine 31st December 1813 announcing the merger.