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.



Wed May 27, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Aren't The Aliens Here Already?

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 12:18 pm

One artist's rendering of imagined alien beings.

The story begins like this: In 1950, a group of high-powered physicists were lunching together near the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Sun May 24, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Festival Of Science


Tue May 19, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

One Concept That Gives Physicists A Casper-Like Haunting

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 3:25 pm

Here at 13.7: Cosmos & Culture, we strive to bring you only the finest, most complete "big answers" to life's enduring "big questions."

And when there is more than one point of view to be explored, we lock our jaws onto the issue like a metaphysical pit bull and stay that way until someone calls animal control on us. It is that relentless commitment to the truth that brings us back today to the eternal question of why, exactly, your butt doesn't fall through your chair.

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Tue May 12, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Climate Denialists In Congress Acting As NASA's Kryptonite

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 10:41 am

The Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa as seen from the International Space Station.
Samantha Cristoforetti NASA/ESA

Quick: List the first four words that pop into your mind when you hear NASA.

If you are like most folks, you hit some mix of astronauts, moon landings, space telescopes and Mars probes. Those are pretty positive images representing accomplishments we can all feel proud about.

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Tue May 5, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

How We Came To Be Run By Time

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 10:12 am

Keith Tsuji iStockphoto

Where did time come from? How did it start?

I don't mean cosmic time in a "Big Bang" kind of way. No, I mean something far more intimate.

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Tue April 28, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Video Games Matter

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 11:21 am

The Last of Us is a video game that breaks the traditional narrative form of storytelling in games.
Naughty Dog

Human beings are storytellers. This basic, constant instinct is evident throughout history — from creation narratives told around the night's fire to Greek playwrights to the first novels to the flickering images of early motion pictures.

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Thu April 23, 2015

Hubble Telescope Celebrates 25 Years In Space

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:03 pm

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It was 25 years ago tomorrow that NASA launched the Hubble Telescope. It gave us a new view of the universe, and NPR's Cosmos and Culture blogger Adam Frank tells us its remarkable work will endure for centuries.

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Tue April 21, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

25 Years On: How Hubble's Vision Became Our Own

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 11:32 am

The Horsehead Nebula, as seen with infrared light, shows clouds surrounding it have already dissipated. The Horsehead formation has about 5 million years left before it, too, disintegrates.

When I was a young astrophysics grad student, I'd return home a couple of times a year. Eating dinner with some of my extended family, one of my great aunts would invariably ask why, at age 28, I was still in school.

I'd tell her about my work studying the evolution of stars — how they're born, how they die. But no matter how poetic or uplifting I tried to make my explanations, she'd always bring the conversation to an abrupt halt with the same question: "So what's it good for?"

Then they launched the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Tue April 14, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can The Earth Be Conscious?

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 11:40 am

Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon NASA

Right now, at this very moment, you are submerged in an invisible sea of information. Thoughts, ideas, ambitions and instructions — they are whispering past and through you on waves of modulated electromagnetic energy. From wireless Internet to satellite TV, you are bathed in an endless stream of purposeful, intentional signal.

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Tue April 7, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Doesn't Your Butt Fall Through The Chair?

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 12:06 pm

Franck Camhi iStockphoto

Everyone knows that space is big and empty. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, author of Life, The Universe and Everything: "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the pharmacy, but that's just peanuts to space."

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