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.



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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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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