Perspectives

Famous Astronomer Explains the Expanding Universe in Understandable Terms


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Throughout his 31 years as an astronomer on the faculty at Harvard Dr. Robert Kirshner has been a leader in using supernovae to map the universe and chart the universe’s expansion over time.
Some of his discoveries gave him Science Magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year Award in 1998 and led to a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011.
He is one of the leaders in the concept that the universe is not only expanding but it is doing so today at an accelerated rate compared to years past. This expansion is thanks to “dark energy,” says his team of scientists.
Dr. Kirshner, however, has not been satisfied with just communicating to fellow-scientists about his discoveries. He wants the average person to understand the concepts of the expanding universe and the rolls of our solar system and galaxy in the much greater cosmos.
He has broken down his discoveries into understandable terms for the non-scientist in his popular book “The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos, published by Princeton Science Library and updated in 2016.
Dr. Kirshner has been a definite leader in his field. He has worked with both NASA and the National Science Foundation to influence a national strategy in astronomy and astrophysics.
From 2004-2006, he was president of the American Astronomical Society, the national society for professionals working in astronomy and astrophysics.
Currently, Dr. Kirshner serves as the Chief Program Officer for Science at the Gordan and Betty Moore Foundation. He works to distribute about $100 million per year for science projects funded by the foundation.