Public Understanding of Science

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Public Understanding of Science

Scientists must bring the developments of their fields to the general public. Just as a symphony played only for other musicians will remain largely unknown, if scientists were to keep their work confined among their peers they would be depriving society of their findings and their consequences, be them good or bad. To a great extent, science defines our culture and belongs to society as whole. Through my books, blog, newspaper, magazine articles, TV documentaries, and public lectures in the US and abroad, I try to bring science to the general public via many different media platforms.


My new book is now available! In A Tear at the Edge of Creation
I propose a radical new way to think about the universe and our place in it. Instead of the traditional view that Nature's secrets are encoded in a Final Theory, which is at the core of superstring theories and other searches for a unified description of Nature, I argue that this age-long search for perfection is misguided; Nature is imperfect and the perfection we seek is mostly a reflection of our deeply-ingrained beliefs in a monotheistic power. What we have learned during the past decades is that asymmetry and not symmetry is the creative force behind the emergence of structure, from the cosmos to matter to life itself. This new aesthetic of science has broad-ranging consequences: I show that life, and in particular complex, intelligent life, is exceedingly rare. We may not be the only intelligent beings out there, but for all practical purposes we are alone. This makes us very important indeed. I propose a "humanocentrism," whereby we take charge of our moral responsibility toward our planet and toward life in general.

 US Cover

The Prophet and the Astronomer bookcoverMy second book, The Prophet and the Astronomer: A Scientific Journey to the End of the World, was published the US and UK by W. W. Norton. In Brazil (Companhia das Letras), it won the 2002 "Jabuti Award" for best nonfiction book. It is available at Amazon.com

The book is a transcultural examination of ideas about the end of the world. Starting with apocalyptic traditions in many religions and sects, I show how such ideas entered science in the Renaissance and still remain there today. I discuss meteoritic and cometary bombardment on Earth's past and future, the end of the Sun, the physics of black holes, and, of course, the end of the Universe as a whole from cutting-edge theories of cosmology and particle physics.

The Dancing Universe book coverMy first book, The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang, was published in English (Dutton), Portuguese (Companhia das Letras) and German (Deuticke). In Brazil, it won the 1998 "Jabuti Award" for best nonfiction book. It was reprinted in 2005 by University Press of New England. It is available at Amazon.com

Where does the Universe and everything in it come from? How do religion and science explain the riddle of Creation? In this book, I cover some twenty five centuries of intellectual history focusing on the question of the origin of the Universe from a religious, philosophical, and scientific perspective.


I regularly participate in TV documentaries in the US and abroad. Most recently, in the History Channel's "Beyond the Big Bang" (2007) and "How Life Begun" (2008). Other appearances include the PBS/BBC Stephen Hawking's Universe,  Channel 4 UK "God Only Knows," and HBO's "Latin Americans in the US." I also anchored the weekly science program from TV Globo Brazil, "Globo Ciência" from 2000-2005. Also, for TV Globo, I wrote and anchored two documentary series, "Poeira das Estrelas" (Stardust) and "Mundos Invisíveis" (Invisible Worlds). (A sample of these series - in Portuguese - can be seen here.
To view a (somewhat out of date...) sample of my television appearances you will need Quicktime Player. Or you can go directly to the links above.

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Last updated 08 February 2010
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