There was a lot we didn’t know a year ago when we picked “Play” as the topic for our Summer issue. We didn’t know that a pandemic would put much of the United States and the world on lockdown. We didn’t know the Olympics, one of the reasons we selected the theme, would be postponed. Heck, we didn’t know I’d be writing this letter, my first one as PopSci’s editor-in-chief, let alone that I’d be typing in isolation in my apartment as the staff remotely stitched together a digital-only edition.
With everything turned upside down—and so quickly!—I started to worry that a magazine full of riddles and sports and fart jokes would seem tone-deaf when life by necessity is serious and grim. And when the stakes are so very high. The longer I sat at home, unable to tap my normal sources of release (trivia nights and boxing classes), the truth emerged: We need fun now more than ever.
So, we’re doing something different this time. While we all stay safe at home, Popular Science is making our Summer issue, which is exclusively publishing as a digital edition, available to everyone. Click here to access the whole glee-themed romp—no apps, no credit cards, just register (or enter your subscriber info) and you’re good to go.
We’re excited to share this one with you, because, at PopSci, we take fun seriously. The team’s collective extracurriculars—birding, baking, rock climbing, gardening, powerlifting, roller derbying—are what clear out our noggins. They’re what help us work so hard to deliver top-shelf science and tech journalism, like this merry geek-out on the hows and whys of recreation. We’ve all needed to find work-arounds, like virtual yoga lessons and video chat happy hours, to refresh our gray matter and get to it.
Joy, no matter the source, is essential, and we’ve got the proof: Having fun helps us cope, which you’ll learn from Sara Chodosh, who lays out why laughter is some pretty good medicine. It provides a guilt-free dopamine hit when we act out our primal instincts in lands of make-believe, as Erin Blakemore explains. It drives us to innovate, which you’ll see in Bonnie Tsui’s look into how surfing has advanced by tapping disciplines like physiology. It’s how we learn, grow, and share.
And in the time of COVID-19, play is, above all, an escape. So please consider this magazine a reprieve from months of scary headlines and social distancing. Lean back and enjoy—it’s okay.