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.

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9:32am

Wed July 1, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Designing Superhumans

iStockphoto

The age of genetic design is here.

It is now possible to edit genes of diverse organisms — almost like we edit a string of text — by cutting and pasting (splicing) genes at desired locations. A recent technology known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) allows for the targeted control over cellular organization, regulation and behavior. CRISPR has its origins in the immune systems of bacteria, using short RNA sequences to disrupt the genetic structure of foreign attackers.

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8:43am

Wed June 17, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

After Long Slumber, Philae Says Hi To The World

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 9:17 am

An artist impression shows Philae on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
ESA/ATG medialab AP

In a technological feat that moved the world, last November the European Space Agency landed the small probe Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which is cruising at some 100,000 miles per hour toward the sun. Excitement turned to high drama when the landing put the probe away from the sun's rays and, thus, from its energy source.

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11:50am

Wed June 10, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

If You Don't Know You Are Held Captive, Does It Matter?

iStockphoto

Last week, I held a class discussion on the issue of freedom. This was the closing lecture of my Dartmouth course "Question Reality!," an examination of the nature of physical reality and the limits of knowledge.

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8:53am

Wed June 3, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The High Price Of What We Eat

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 12:26 pm

iStockphoto

On World Water Day, March 22, I wrote here at 13.7 that water — particularly its scarcity — should be one of our top worries for the coming decades. We listed a website with many disturbing facts about water or lack thereof, across the globe.

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9:03am

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.
NASA/ESA

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.

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12:43pm

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.
iStockphoto

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.

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10:53am

Wed May 6, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

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

iStockphoto

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.

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11:13am

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.

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9:10am

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.
NASA

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.

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9:58am

Wed April 15, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Einstein's Universe Turns 100

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

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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.

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