Adam Frank (born August 1, 1962) is an American physicist, astronomer, and writer. His scientific research has focused on computational astrophysics with an emphasis on star formation and late stages of stellar evolution. His work includes studies of exoplanet atmospheres and astrobiology. The latter include studies of the generic response of planets to the evolution of energy-intensive civilizations (exo-civilizations).

Adam Frank
Born (1962-08-01) 1 August 1962 (age 60)
Alma materUniversity of Colorado
University of Washington
Known forPopular scientific writing
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, author, astrophysics professor
InstitutionsLeiden University
University of Minnesota
University of Rochester

His popular writing has focused on issues of science in its cultural context. Topics include: issues of climate and the human future, technology, and cultural evolution; the nature of mind and experience; science and religion. He is a co-founder of the 13.7 Cosmos and Culture Blog that originated on National Public Radio (NPR),[1] and he is a regular on-air contributor to NPR's All Things Considered. He is an occasional contributor to the New York Times.

Life and careerEdit

Frank was born on August 1, 1962, in Belleville, New Jersey.[citation needed] He attended the University of Colorado for his undergraduate work and received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington. He held post-doctoral positions at Leiden University in the Netherlands and the University of Minnesota. In 1995, Frank was awarded the Hubble Fellowship.[2] In 1996, he joined the faculty of the University of Rochester, where he is a professor of astrophysics.

Frank's research focus is astrophysical fluid dynamics. His research group developed the AstroBEAR adaptive mesh refinement code used for simulating magneto fluid dynamics flows in astrophysical contexts.[3] Projects using AstroBEAR include the study of jets from protostars as well the evolution of planetary nebula at the end of the life of a solar-type star.

Popular writingEdit

In 2008, Frank authored an article for Discover magazine that explored scientific arguments regarding the big bang theory.[4] Frank's first book, entitled The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, was published in 2009. It discussed the ongoing relationship between science and religion. His work appeared in 2009 Best Science and Nature Writing [5] and in 2009 Best Buddhist Writing.[citation needed] In 2010, Frank co-founded the NPR 13.7 Cosmos and Culture Blog with Marcelo Gleiser.[6]

A second book by Frank was published in fall 2011, About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang. It explores the relationship between changing ideas in cosmology and the cultural idea of time.[7] In 2016, Frank wrote an article entitled "Yes, There Have Been Aliens". It is based on his astronomical observations, which stated "a trillion civilizations still would have appeared over the course of cosmic history".[8] Frank wrote a college-level science textbook entitled Astronomy At Play in the Cosmos. It was published in September 2016.[9] Another book by Frank, Light of the Stars. Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, was published on June 12, 2018. It attempts to reframe debates about climate change by showing it to be a generic phenomena that is likely to occur with almost any technological civilization on any planet. In the book, he explores what Frank calls the Astrobiology of the Anthropocene.[10] Frank and Gleiser's blog moved to Orbiter magazine [11] in 2018 with a new name, 13.8: Science, Culture, and Meaning.[12]

Shortly after he and colleagues were awarded a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to look for evidence of advanced technology on planets outside the solar system, on May 30, 2021, Frank's guest essay, I'm a Physicist Who Searches for Aliens. U.F.O.s Don't Impress Me. was published in the New York Times.[13] In the article, he noted the mathematical probabilities over time for extraterrestrial civilizations in the universe, however, he put forth plausible explanations for the nature of the phenomenon described in reports that have appeared in media since 1947 and lamented about the lack of scientific study of such phenomenon, which he would encourage. Furthermore, he responded to assertions that the aliens presumed to be evident in these reports could have been intending to remain hidden, by asserting, "...if the mission of these aliens calls for stealth, they seem surprisingly incompetent. You would think that creatures technologically capable of traversing the mind-boggling distances between the stars would also know how to turn off their high beams at night and to elude our primitive infrared cameras.

Awards and recognitionEdit

  • 1995 Hubble Fellow [2]
  • 1997-2002 NSF CAREER Grant[14]
  • 1999 American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division Popular Writing Award for a Scientist [15]
  • 2009 Best American Science and Nature Writing [16]


  • "In the nursery of the stars". Discover. 17 (2): 38–45. February 1996.
  • The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs Religion Debate, University of California Press (10 January 2009), ISBN 978-0-520-26586-8
  • The End of the Beginning: Cosmology Culture and Time at the Twilight of the Big Bang, (27 September 2010), ISBN 978-0-452-27606-2
  • Light of the Stars. Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, (12 June 2018), ISBN 978-0-393-60901-1


  1. ^ "13.7: Cosmos And Culture". NPR. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Hubble Fellowships: Listing of all Hubble Fellows 1990-2014". Space Telescope Science Institute. Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  3. ^ Simulating Magnetohydrodynamical Flow with Constrained Transport and Adaptive Mesh Refinement: Algorithms and Tests of the AstroBEAR Code
  4. ^ Frank, Adam, 3 Theories That Might Blow Up The Big Bang, Discover
  5. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth; Folger, Tim, eds. (2009). The best American science and nature writing 2009. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0547002590.
  6. ^ "About '13.7: Cosmos And Culture'". NPR. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  7. ^ Frank, Adam (27 September 2011). About Time. ISBN 9781439169612.
  8. ^ Anderson, Ross (17 June 2016). "Fancy Math Can't Make Aliens Real". The Atlantic. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
    - Frank, Adam (10 June 2016). "Yes, There Have Been Aliens". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  9. ^ Frank, Adam. Astronomy. W. W. Norton & Company. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Light of the Stars". W. W. Norton & Company. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  11. ^ Orbiter magazine site
  12. ^ "A New Home for 13.7 . . . Make That 13.8". Orbiter. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  13. ^ Frank, Adam, I'm a Physicist Who Searches for Aliens. U.F.O.s Don't Impress Me., the New York Times, May 30, 2021
  14. ^ "Award Abstract #9702484 CAREER: Understanding Stellar Overflows". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Previous Winners of the SPD Popular Writing Awards". Solar Physics Division (SPD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  16. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth; Folger, Tim, eds. (2009). The best American science and nature writing 2009. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0547002590.

External linksEdit