Marcelo Gleiser

Marcelo Gleiser is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. He is the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and a professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College.

Gleiser is the author of the books The Prophet and the Astronomer (Norton & Company, 2003); The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang (Dartmouth, 2005); A Tear at the Edge of Creation (Free Press, 2010); and The Island of Knowledge (Basic Books, 2014). He is a frequent presence in TV documentaries and writes often for magazines, blogs and newspapers on various aspects of science and culture.

He has authored over 100 refereed articles, is a Fellow and General Councilor of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the Presidential Faculty Fellows Award from the White House and the National Science Foundation.



Wed May 20, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Viewing A Universe In Flux

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 4:36 pm

The cluster and star-forming region Westerlund 2.

The phenomenally successful Hubble Space Telescope turned 25 last month.

To celebrate the occasion, the Hubble team released a spectacular photo of a "stellar nursery," a region of space where huge amounts of gas and dust churn dramatically under gravity's never-resting arms to create new stars and, with them, new planets. Known as Westerlund 2 in the constellation Carina, it houses some 3,000 stars, some of them the hottest and brightest in our galaxy.

Read more


Wed May 13, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Merging Global Values In A More Secular America

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 4:54 pm

The percentage of Americans affiliated with a religion is declining, according to a new study.

We have an African-American president and may soon have a female president. But would Americans ever elect an atheist or agnostic president?

Perhaps in a decade or so.

A new Pew Research Center survey, dramatically titled "America's Changing Religious Landscape," has painted a somewhat surprising picture of the decline of Christians as a share of the population since 2007, contrasted with the rise of those claiming to be unaffiliated to any particular religion.

Read more


Wed May 6, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Are We To Become Gods, The Destroyers Of Our World?


In the stylish new sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, Frankenstein's old theme re-emerges in a beautifully designed setting: Instead of the Gothic castle we have a spectacular estate in a vast mountainous wilderness, home of the recluse genius who wants to create the first true artificial intelligence.

As in Mary Shelley's classic, cutting-edge science serves as inspiration to a moral tale, one that explores the boundary between humans and gods.

Read more


Wed April 29, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Pope's Coming Statement On Global Warming Will Be Significant

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 11:27 am

Alessandra Tarantino AP

It is fitting that Pope Francis I, who chose his name from St. Francis of Assissi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, is preparing to publish an encyclical this summer on the effects of climate change on the poor, and the need to protect Earth and its environment.

Read more


Wed April 22, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

'Planetary' Calls For A Global Vision Shift For Earthlings

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 4:31 pm

A view of a phytoplankton bloom near Alaska's Pribilof Islands. The milky green and light blue shading of the water indicates the presence of vast populations of microscopic phytoplankton.

As today is Earth Day, it may be that nothing is more appropriate than watching, here, at 13.7, a preview of the documentary Planetary.

Read more


Wed April 15, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Einstein's Universe Turns 100

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 8:50 am


One hundred years ago, a 36-year-old Albert Einstein presented the complete formulation of the General Theory of Relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Across the world, events and conferences will be celebrating what is considered, without hyperbole, the most beautiful of physical theories, marrying mathematics with physical concepts in deeply meaningful and elegant ways. Some consider it the highest intellectual achievement in history.

Read more


Wed April 8, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What The 'God Of The Gaps' Teaches Us About Science

Scientist Isaac Newton on an engraving from the 1800s.

"God of the Gaps": When God is invoked to fill in the blanks in scientific knowledge. An old-fashioned and doomed theological approach, but one that is nevertheless very much alive in the minds of many.

Read more


Wed April 1, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Van Gogh's Turbulent Mind Captured Turbulence

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 6:16 pm

This week marked Vincent van Gogh's 162nd birthday. The always-illuminating Maria Popova celebrated in her Brainpickings newsletter by bringing back studies linking van Gogh's celebrated 1889 painting The Starry Night -- where light and clouds flow in turbulent swirls on the night sky — with studies of turbulence in fluid flows.

How this works is one of the hardest questions in modern physics.

Read more


Wed March 25, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Should You Trust That New Medical Study?

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 7:36 pm

Alexander Raths iStockphoto

News of medical studies fill the headlines and airwaves — often in blatant contradiction. We've all seen it: One week, coffee helps cure cancer; the next, it causes it.

From a consumer's perspective, the situation can be very confusing and potentially damaging — for example, in a case where someone with a serious illness believes and follows the wrong lead.

Read more


Sun March 22, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Take A Shorter Shower — It's World Water Day


Even though water scarcity is probably among the top of our list of 21st century worries, few people stress about it unless directly lacking a safe source of ample water.

Read more