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Astronomy, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Physics for the Nonscientist: Scientific American

Resources for nonscience majors taking a course in physics, astronomy, and/or geology.

Electronic Access

If you want electronic access to Scientific American, we have several options. 

If you have reached this page on your own, you have probably tried Googling a Scientific American article, and you were paywalled (it asked you to pay to view an article).

How to Access

Scientific American with the illustrations, pictures, and figures is available through the Scientific American web site at a special URL:

We also have access to Scientific American issues from the early days (before 1909).

Finally, there are a few text-only articles available through our aggregators (library subscriptions that give us access to a bundle of publications, but that haven't necessarily cleared image rights). Please note that "Single Journals" is how the name for Springer-Nature's Scientific American is appearing and that we do have access to Scientific American Mind through the archives.


If you are experiencing problems accessing Scientific American, here are a few instructions for getting access.

  • On YaleSecure/Ethernet or the VPN – The most common problem is a cookie issue. First, confirm that you are connected to the Yale network or VPN at this link. Then, clear your browser cookies for Scientific American and refresh the page or use a new browser, preferably one that you use less frequently.
    • Cookies can frequently persist for hours to days, so it's always best to close Scientific American browser tabs after using it if you have plans to be away from the Yale network.
    • We recommend saving your articles to a reference manager like Zotero, EndNote, Mendeley, or RefWorks for easy access and annotation on the go.
  • Off-campus, but not on the VPN – Clear your browser cookies as described above. You can use our proxy service to access Scientific American without being on the VPN via the following link:
    • Have your phone handy, as you may need to use multi-factor authentication.
    • If you're off-campus and accessing SciAm from one of the other links, add to the front of the URL and ensure that the URL begins with https://

Access Limitations

The following limitations apply to, not to the other access portals.

  • Special issues are not included in our subscription, but they are on the library access page. Look for the key symbol; it's used to indicate "locked" content.
  • The interface does not support exporting to Pocket or Instapaper, but you can download articles to PDF.

Accessing SciAm in Print

What if you need something from Scientific American in print?

You have several options. The location of Scientific American's print Orbis record is extremely important:

Scientific American is held in multiple locations, with holdings ranges (the volumes and issues that we have) varying from location to location. Most locations will provide two options: Request recall or delivery and Request scan of article/chapter. Clicking on either of these will get you what you need — the former in print, the latter in e. Before making a request, ensure that the location you have selected carries the specific volume and issue that you want.

Request recall or delivery allows you to recall a book that has already been checked out or deliver a copy to you. For example, if the Bass Library and SML are the closest libraries to you, but the copy you need is at Marx Library or at LSF, you can request that the volume be sent to the Bass Library or SML for easy pickup.

Request scan of article/chapter requires information about the article you need. Once you click on the link, input as much information about the article as possible, such as the journal volume and issue numbers, authors, title, and doi (digital object identifier; it will look similar to this: 10.1038/scientificamerican0514-14). 

More information about processing and turnaround times is available on our Get It @Yale site:

Science Research Support Librarian

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Kayleigh Bohemier
Please email me or use the Schedule Appointment button. In-person and virtual (Zoom) appointments are both possible. Please note that Science Hill is a 15-minute walk from central campus, and there is a temporary entrance due to construction.

My default ONSITE days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. During the semester (not during breaks!), I am onsite on Thursdays. I am OFFSITE most Mondays.


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