Dr. Mario Livio is an astrophysicist at Hubble’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). His work has addressed the accretion of mass onto black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs. During the past decade, his research has focused on supernova explosions and their use in cosmology to determine the rate of expansion of the universe, and the nature of the “dark energy” that causes the cosmic expansion to accelerate. He has also examined the survival of planets beyond our solar system.
Livio’s interests span a broad range of topics in astrophysics, from cosmology to the emergence of intelligent life, and include a keen appreciation of the artistic world. In fact, several of his popular books, including “The Accelerating Universe” and “The Golden Ratio,” address the melding of science and math with the natural beauty of the universe.
Born in 1945 in Romania, Livio lived with his grandparents for most of the first five years of his life after his parents left the country for political reasons. He immigrated with his grandparents to Israel in 1950. He majored in physics and mathematics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; obtained his M.Sc. degree in theoretical particle physics at the Weizmann Institute, and got his Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics at Tel-Aviv University. He was a professor of physics in the physics department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology until 1991, when he joined STScI.
Livio has published over 400 scientific papers and received numerous awards for research and excellence in teaching. “The Golden Ratio” won him the “Peano Prize” for 2003, and the “International Pythagoras Prize” for 2004, as the best popular book on mathematics. His latest book, “Is God a Mathematician?” discusses the “unreasonable” effectiveness of mathematics in explaining the cosmos.