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 January 21, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Was 2014 The Hottest Year On Record — Or Not?

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 8:47 am

Icebergs float in Iceland's Jökulsárlón glacial lake, where the Vatnajökull glacier is retreating quickly due to global warming.

Since the Jan. 16 release of findings by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) indicating that 2014 has been the hottest year on record, naysayers have criticized the report as being exaggerated and distorted.

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Wed January 14, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Capturing Changes In The Way We Connect

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 4:13 pm

Courtesy of Jacob F. Lucas

After reading a recent post of mine focusing on whether we should be living our lives, or capturing them, photographer Jacob F. Lucas got in touch. He recently put together a book called Commute Culture that addresses this same topic through pictures.

I decided to find out what inspired him to delve into this subject matter. Here are some highlights from our discussion:

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Wed January 7, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

As 2015 Begins, Some Ruminations On Science And Life


Over the years, I've been collecting thought fragments and sentences that come to me during the day or in the course of my writing books and essays.

Since this is a time of introspection and self-analysis, I wanted to share some of them with the 13.7 readers — along with my wishes for a creative and healthy 2015. I hope these may be useful to you in one way or another. Here it goes:

Limits are not obstacles but triggers that expand your boundaries.

Boundaries can be jails or invitations — it all depends on how you see them.

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Wed December 17, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Black Holes And Our Cosmic Future

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 10:06 am


With the movies Interstellar and The Theory of Everything out, black holes are in the news, exciting people's imagination.

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Wed December 10, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Space, Time, Love And Stephen Hawking

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in 2006.

Stephen Hawking is the world's most famous scientist. I can't think of another example of a scientist who has had so many headlines and, now, a biographic movie while still alive.

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Wed December 3, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Quest For The Unattainable Unification Of Knowledge


In his recent book, The Meaning of Human Existence, the celebrated evolutionary biologist, entomologist and essayist Edward Wilson sets off to chart a possible path toward the unification of the sciences and the humanities — taking off from his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. If we are successful, claims Wilson, we should arrive at a deeply transformative understanding of the meaning of our existence.

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Wed November 19, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Little Comet Probe That Could

This combination photo produced with different images shows Philae after landing on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Even with all the drama — and now the prolonged silence, possibly permanent — the European Space Agency's (ESA) mission to land a fridge-sized probe on a comet zipping at about 80,000 miles per hour, some 300 million miles from Earth, was a resounding success. This first ever comet landing has captivated the world as very few events in the history — certainly the recent history — of space exploration have.

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Thu November 13, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Science Of 'Interstellar'

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 8:06 pm

Actor Matthew McConaughey poses with a model spacecraft at the premiere of the film Interstellar in October.
Joel Ryan AP

Every child must leave home one day — but rarely because he has destroyed his home.

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Wed November 5, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Despite Disasters, Explore We Must

File photo of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.
Reed Saxon AP

The crash of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo over the Mojave Desert last Friday, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury and seriously injuring pilot Peter Siebold, has renewed discussions on the value of commercial space exploration. Should we continue to do this at the unavoidable cost of human life? Is this simply a moneymaking enterprise so that a few people that can afford the $250,000 price tag can float for a few minutes at the edge of Earth's atmosphere?

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Wed October 29, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can Scientific Belief Go Too Far?

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 6:33 pm


Last week, our own Tania Lombrozo ignited an intense discussion of the differences between factual and religious belief. I want to take off from there and examine a no less controversial issue, one that has been in the limelight of cutting-edge physics for the past few years: Do some scientists hold on to a belief longer than they should? Or, more provocatively phrased, when does a scientific belief become an article of faith?

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