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 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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Tue January 20, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What If Heaven Is Not For Real?

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 9:47 am

An 1870 engraving by Gustave Dore depicts the vision of the golden ladder, a scene from Dante's Paradiso.
D. Walker iStockphoto

Last week, a young man named Alex Malarkey made news when he publicly retracted his story that he'd been to heaven. This, understandably, may not seem like news to some people. But Malarkey's story, based on the tragedy of an auto accident when he was just 6 years old, became a best-selling book called The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.

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Mon January 19, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Climate And Other Worlds

The crescent moon and, to its left, planet Venus.
Y. Beletsky ESO

The news this week that 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history puts climate change back on the front page (not that it ever really left).

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Tue January 13, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Invisible World Has A Funky Fresh Beat

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 7:48 am

Nigel John Stanford/YouTube

How much do you think you are missing right now — in this very moment, as you sit reading these words? How much of the world's grace and power do you think is cascading around you unseen like a swift, invisible river?

Most of it.

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Tue January 6, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Setting The Record Straight For Alan Turing

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:37 pm

Alan M Turing and colleagues work on the Ferranti Mark I Computer in the United Kingdom in 1951.
Science & Society Picture Library via Getty Images

Imagine, for a moment, that Albert Einstein's greatest contributions were kept secret at the highest levels of government. Imagine, for a moment, that while still relatively young, Einstein was prosecuted, shamed and driven to suicide for the inclinations of his affections. Imagine, for a moment, that in the wake of the secrecy, the shame and the suicide, you never knew Albert Einstein's name.

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Wed December 31, 2014
Book Reviews

Book Review: 'Waking Up: A Guide To Spirituality Without Religion'

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 4:36 pm

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Tue December 23, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Magic Of Christmas Eve Goes Beyond Religion

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 4:32 pm

Shunyu Fan iStockphoto

It was late at night one Christmas Eve in the mid-1980s — New York City was a still a murky mix of squalor and grandeur then — when I found myself stranded at a bus stop near 121rd Street after a botched reunion with an ex-girlfriend. The street was empty and quiet and peaceful in a way only Christmas Eve (or apocalyptic blizzards) can manifest.

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Tue December 16, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Seeing Heaven: The Beauty of Cosmigraphics

1660: These depictions of the sun in a Ptolemaic, geocentric cosmos, and in the alternative, heliocentric scheme proposed by Copernicus, are from Andreas Cellarius's sumptuous Harmonia macrocosmica. The sun has expanded radically in size and its facial expression has acquired a solemnity in keeping with its enhanced stature. Note Cellarius's depictions of the moon, far smaller than Earth.
Courtesy of the University of Michigan Library

If I asked you to picture the universe in your head, you'd probably conjure up images of fiery stars and swirling galaxies.

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Tue December 9, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Searching For Proof Of The Unseen

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 4:31 pm

Do you wonder if the refrigerator light goes off when you shut the door?
Lisa Kimberly Getty Images/Flickr Select

We human beings are curious by nature. Since the time we first began gathering around campfires to ward off the terrors of the night, some questions have haunted us like stubborn ghosts.

Many of these great unknowns have fallen under the weight of passing millennia and the advance of technology. We moderns now know why the ground shakes in an earthquake and why the sky rumbles in a thunderstorm.

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Tue December 2, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Confessions Of An Astrophysicist: I'm In Love With A Star

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 2:37 pm

The star Mira, commentator Adam Frank's love interest, leaves a trail of gas — light-years across — as it hurtles through space.

So, I'm in love and it's not an easy thing.

Though my beloved is beautiful and subtle and bestowed of great grace, there also is a terrible distance between us. Nothing I do can bridge that gulf, and the object of my affections will not acknowledge me. But I don't care. For those in love know that enduring the indifference and the distance is nothing but a tiny price to pay.

My love, of course, is a star. Her name is Mira.

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