The Caroline Werner Gannett Project 2007-08
Adam Frank

Adam Frank

University of Rochester astrophysicist and author


“The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs Religion Debate”

When: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 8:00PM
Where: Carlson Auditorium (Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science Building 76)

Talk Description:

Drawing from his experience as a practicing astrophysicist and from the writings of the great scholars of religion, philosophy, and mythology, Frank locates the connective tissue linking science and spiritual endeavor as human activities--their commonality as sacred pursuits--and finds their shared aspiration in pursuit of "the True and the Real." Taking us from the burning of Giordano Bruno in 1600 to Einstein and on to today's pressing issues of global warming and resource depletion, The Constant Fire shows us how to move beyond this stale debate into a more profound experience of the world as sacred--a world that embraces science without renouncing human spirituality. The Constant Fire tackles the acrimonious debate between science and religion, taking us beyond its stagnant parameters into the wider domain of human spiritual experience. From a Neolithic archaeological site in Ireland to modern theories of star formation, Adam Frank traverses a wide terrain, broadening our sights and allowing us to imagine an alternative perspective.


Adam Frank fell in love with astronomy when he was 5 years old and the affair has never cooled. Late one night in the family library, the future Professor Frank found the keys to the Universe sketched out on the covers of his Dads’ pulp science fiction magazines. From astronauts bounding across the jagged frontiers of alien worlds to starships rising to discovery on pillars of fire, the boundless world of possibilities on those covers became the one he was determined to inhabit. Later the love for astronomy transformed into a passion for the practice of science itself when his fathers simple explanation of electric currents and sound waves turned the terror of a booming thunderstorm into a opportunity to marvel at the world’s beauty. Now a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester Adam Frank has become a leading expert on the final stages of evolution for stars like the sun. Using supercomputers to animate the equations of mathetmatical physics Frank also studies the birth solar-type stars and the use of high energy fusion machines to create scaled experiments of astrophysical plasmas. Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a successful research group at the University of Rochester. He holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy Fusion lab. As a post-doc he was awarded the prestigious Hubble Fellowship and in 1997 he was awarded an NSF Career award.

Frank described himself as an “evangelist of science”. His commitment to showing others the beauty and power of science has led him to a second career as a popular writer and speaker on the subject. For the last 16 years Frank has published numerous popular articles on everything from Planet Formation to the Quantum Mechanics of Honey Bee Dances (a piece that inspired a major art installation). His has been a regular contributor to Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine (where he serves on the editorial advisory board) and has written for Scientific American, Sky & Telescope, Tricycle and many other publications. In 1999 Frank was awarded an American Astronomical Society prize for his science writing. In January 2009 his first book The Constant Fire was published by the University of California Press. This year his work will appear in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009 and Best Buddhist Writing 2009. The Constant Fire was chosen one of SEED magazine’s “Best Picks of the Year” 2009.

The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate