Adam Frank

Adam Frank is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.

Frank is the author of two books: The Constant Fire, Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate (University of California Press, 2010), which was one of SEED magazine's "Best Picks of The Year," and About Time, Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang (Free Press, 2011). He has contributed to The New York Times and magazines such as Discover, Scientific American and Tricycle.

Frank's work has also appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. In 1999 he was awarded an American Astronomical Society prize for his science writing.



Tue March 31, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

How Many Stars Are There?

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 10:33 am

A view of the bright star cluster NGC 3532 from La Silla Observatory in Chile.
G. Beccari ESO

The night sky carries the weight of many meanings for humanity. It's the home of the gods (or God). It's the essence of distance. It's the embodiment of infinities.

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Tue March 24, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What If Web Search Results Were Based On Accuracy?

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:24 pm

Matjaz Boncina iStockphoto

Imagine, for a moment, that every Web search gave only accurate, verified information. Imagine that questions concerning real facts about the real world returned lists of websites ordered by how well those site's facts matched the real world.

Search for "Barack Obama's nationality," and websites claiming "Kenya" would be banished to the 32nd page of the list. Search for "measles and autism" and you'd have to scroll down for 10 minutes before you found a page claiming they were linked.

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Tue March 17, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

How A Soggy Solar System Can Spark A New Human Future

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 4:50 pm

S. Jastrzebski iStockphoto

Let's begin with your great-great-great-etc.-grandparents. I'm talking eight or nine of those "greats," meaning your ancestors living around the first decades of the 1800s.

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Tue March 10, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Are 'Big' Truths Better Than 'Small' Truths?

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 3:49 pm


There is a TV show dedicated to big ideas. There is a website just for big thinking and another for big questions. The search for "big truths" seems pretty popular right now.

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Tue March 3, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can Cities Change Earth's Evolution?

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:43 pm

Chicago skyline.

When Charles Darwin first taught us how to think about evolution, he also was teaching us to think about time. By allowing natural selection to work over millions of years, what might seem like a divine miracle (the creation of a new kind of animal) became something much more grounded (though equally wondrous).

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Tue February 24, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

My Depressing Day With A Famous Climate Skeptic

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:45 pm


On Sunday, The New York Times ran a damning story about Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon, a scientist who's played an outsized role in the public debate over climate change.

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Tue February 17, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Shock, Awe And Science

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 2:38 pm

Artist depiction of the rings of planet J1407b with Saturn and its rings (in the distance) shown for comparison.
Ron Miller Courtesy of Eric Mamajek

Imagine you walked outside one morning and there was a 30,000-pound cat sitting in your front yard. Imagine that, on the way to work, you walked past a mushroom the size of a house. Imagine that, in the midst of all the mundane, day-to-day things you take for granted, something utterly new — and utterly unexpected — plopped itself into your reality.

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Tue February 10, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Moon Like You Have Never Seen It Before

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 9:58 am


There are many invisible realities that lie hidden from us. Some things happen too fast for us to see. Some things are too small to see. Some things are too far away. Some things, however, are right in front of us, but we are just in the wrong position to get a clear view.

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Tue February 3, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Science Denialism Has Consequences

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 3:56 pm

A measles outbreak began at Disneyland in California and has since traveled to other parts of the country.
Jae C. Hong AP

When I was kid, there was this commercial that became a 1970s version of a meme. In it, Mother Nature is seen in a forest with a gathering of animals telling fairytales about Goldilocks eating porridge covered with sweet butter. When informed that her porridge is, in fact, slathered in Chiffon margarine and not butter, Mother Nature becomes enraged. As the sky darkens and the clouds rumble, she snarls, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

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Tue January 27, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Most Dangerous Ideas In Science

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 3:06 pm

There's a battle going on at the edge of the universe, but it's getting fought right here on Earth. With roots stretching back as far as the ancient Greeks, in the eyes of champions on either side, this fight is a contest over nothing less than the future of science. It's a conflict over the biggest cosmic questions humans can ask and the methods we use — or can use — to get answers for those questions.

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