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 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.

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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.

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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.

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Wed March 18, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Much Rests On The Enhanced Large Hadron Collider

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 1:11 pm

Part of the Large Hadron Collider.

Get ready to look at the universe through a new window.

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Wed March 4, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Do Fairies Live In The Multiverse?

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:43 pm

Stephane Bidouze iStockphoto

When I became a physicist, my dream was simple, even if ambitious: I wanted to understand nature, to build theories that would make predictions that would eventually be verified by experiments. I would then be like those heroes of physical science — Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Antoine Lavoisier, Niels Henrik, David Bohr — people who built narratives that pried open some of nature's secrets; people who were able to see the essence of physical reality beyond most of us.

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Wed February 25, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Man Who Turned Life Into Magic

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 3:18 pm

Oliver Sacks in 2007.

I was shocked and saddened to read Oliver Sacks' New York Times op-ed last Thursday where he told of his terminal liver cancer from a previous, rare ocular melanoma. As of Wednesday evening, there were 808 comments from readers, all deeply touched by Oliver's humanity. He deserves no less.

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Wed February 18, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Clinging To Timelessness In A Changing Cosmos

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 10:43 am

Steve Cole iStockphoto

We humans long for permanence, for some kind of lasting presence. Witness the closing lines of Shakespeare's famous "Sonnet 18":

"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

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Wed February 11, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Should We Be Afraid Of Aliens?

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 11:32 am

Might nightmarish alien beings, like these imagined ones, invade Earth?

In the long list of modern fears, bloodthirsty aliens may not rank near the top. We have more immediate worries, from terrorism and bioengineered (or not) global epidemics to nuclear holocaust and natural disasters.

However, the notion that other intelligences exist out there in the universe is pervasive in popular culture. Mirrors to our own history, in particular colonial exploitations, aliens are often portrayed as evil invaders bent on coming here to wreak havoc.

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Wed February 4, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Lessons From The Beginning Of Time

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 1:42 pm

An image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232, located about 100 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus (The River). The central areas contain older stars of reddish color, while the spiral arms are populated by young, blue stars and many star-forming regions.

The news came out last week that, after a painstaking data analysis involving two teams of scientists, the much-hyped detection of gravitational waves from the Big Bang — announced almost a year ago — was indeed a false alarm: The spiral-shaped distortions in the very fabric of space were mostly caused by a much less dramatic culprit, interstellar dust grains. Close but no cigar, at least not for a while.

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Wed January 28, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Is An Identical Copy Of You, You?

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 2:52 pm