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.


4:56 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Hubble Telescope Celebrates 25 Years In Space

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:03 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



It was 25 years ago tomorrow that NASA launched the Hubble Telescope. It gave us a new view of the universe, and NPR's Cosmos and Culture blogger Adam Frank tells us its remarkable work will endure for centuries.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
3:58 am
Tue April 21, 2015

25 Years On: How Hubble's Vision Became Our Own

The Horsehead Nebula, as seen with infrared light, shows clouds surrounding it have already dissipated. The Horsehead formation has about 5 million years left before it, too, disintegrates.

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 11:32 am

When I was a young astrophysics grad student, I'd return home a couple of times a year. Eating dinner with some of my extended family, one of my great aunts would invariably ask why, at age 28, I was still in school.

I'd tell her about my work studying the evolution of stars — how they're born, how they die. But no matter how poetic or uplifting I tried to make my explanations, she'd always bring the conversation to an abrupt halt with the same question: "So what's it good for?"

Then they launched the Hubble Space Telescope.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:22 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Can The Earth Be Conscious?

Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon NASA

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 11:40 am

Right now, at this very moment, you are submerged in an invisible sea of information. Thoughts, ideas, ambitions and instructions — they are whispering past and through you on waves of modulated electromagnetic energy. From wireless Internet to satellite TV, you are bathed in an endless stream of purposeful, intentional signal.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:52 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Why Doesn't Your Butt Fall Through The Chair?

Franck Camhi iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 12:06 pm

Everyone knows that space is big and empty. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, author of Life, The Universe and Everything: "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the pharmacy, but that's just peanuts to space."

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:09 am
Tue March 31, 2015

How Many Stars Are There?

A view of the bright star cluster NGC 3532 from La Silla Observatory in Chile.
G. Beccari ESO

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 10:33 am

The night sky carries the weight of many meanings for humanity. It's the home of the gods (or God). It's the essence of distance. It's the embodiment of infinities.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
7:55 am
Tue March 24, 2015

What If Web Search Results Were Based On Accuracy?

Matjaz Boncina iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:24 pm

Imagine, for a moment, that every Web search gave only accurate, verified information. Imagine that questions concerning real facts about the real world returned lists of websites ordered by how well those site's facts matched the real world.

Search for "Barack Obama's nationality," and websites claiming "Kenya" would be banished to the 32nd page of the list. Search for "measles and autism" and you'd have to scroll down for 10 minutes before you found a page claiming they were linked.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
3:55 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

How A Soggy Solar System Can Spark A New Human Future

S. Jastrzebski iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 4:50 pm

Let's begin with your great-great-great-etc.-grandparents. I'm talking eight or nine of those "greats," meaning your ancestors living around the first decades of the 1800s.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:09 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Are 'Big' Truths Better Than 'Small' Truths?


Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 3:49 pm

There is a TV show dedicated to big ideas. There is a website just for big thinking and another for big questions. The search for "big truths" seems pretty popular right now.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
7:39 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Can Cities Change Earth's Evolution?

Chicago skyline.

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:43 pm

When Charles Darwin first taught us how to think about evolution, he also was teaching us to think about time. By allowing natural selection to work over millions of years, what might seem like a divine miracle (the creation of a new kind of animal) became something much more grounded (though equally wondrous).

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:11 am
Tue February 24, 2015

My Depressing Day With A Famous Climate Skeptic


Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:45 pm

On Sunday, The New York Times ran a damning story about Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon, a scientist who's played an outsized role in the public debate over climate change.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:03 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Shock, Awe And Science

Artist depiction of the rings of planet J1407b with Saturn and its rings (in the distance) shown for comparison.
Ron Miller Courtesy of Eric Mamajek

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 2:38 pm

Imagine you walked outside one morning and there was a 30,000-pound cat sitting in your front yard. Imagine that, on the way to work, you walked past a mushroom the size of a house. Imagine that, in the midst of all the mundane, day-to-day things you take for granted, something utterly new — and utterly unexpected — plopped itself into your reality.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
6:11 am
Tue February 10, 2015

The Moon Like You Have Never Seen It Before


Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 9:58 am

There are many invisible realities that lie hidden from us. Some things happen too fast for us to see. Some things are too small to see. Some things are too far away. Some things, however, are right in front of us, but we are just in the wrong position to get a clear view.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:21 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Science Denialism Has Consequences

A measles outbreak began at Disneyland in California and has since traveled to other parts of the country.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 3:56 pm

When I was kid, there was this commercial that became a 1970s version of a meme. In it, Mother Nature is seen in a forest with a gathering of animals telling fairytales about Goldilocks eating porridge covered with sweet butter. When informed that her porridge is, in fact, slathered in Chiffon margarine and not butter, Mother Nature becomes enraged. As the sky darkens and the clouds rumble, she snarls, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:11 am
Tue January 27, 2015

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
6:07 am
Tue January 20, 2015

What If Heaven Is Not For Real?

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

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:51 am
Tue January 13, 2015

The Invisible World Has A Funky Fresh Beat

Nigel John Stanford/YouTube

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:04 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Setting The Record Straight For Alan Turing

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

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

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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Book Reviews
4:36 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

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

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:25 am
Tue December 23, 2014

The Magic Of Christmas Eve Goes Beyond Religion

Shunyu Fan iStockphoto

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:11 am
Tue December 16, 2014

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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