Sir John Maddox, 83, the former physics lecturer and science journalist whose 22 years as editor of Nature transformed the moss-covered journal into one of the world's leading sources of science information, died April 12 in Abergavenny, Wales, of a chest infection and pneumonia following a bout with a broken hip. Founded in 1869, Nature is one of the oldest scientific journals still around and one of the few to publish papers across the full range of scientific disciplines. But when Maddox was recruited as editor in 1966, the journal had fallen on hard times. Most of the papers it published were pedestrian, its "News and Views" section published mostly official notices about birthdays and a massive pile of submitted manuscripts had built up. Maddox began recruiting staff, giving them unprecedented responsibility. A formal reviewing system for manuscripts was established. Submissions were extensively -- some said savagely -- copy-edited to improve their cogency and readability.
LOS ANGELES TIMES