What inspired you to start writing books for the public?
Most people are actually very interested in science, more so than some would think. It's true that they're not interested in all areas of science, but most are very interested in things related to origins--how the universe began, how the solar system formed, how galaxies start, how life originated on Earth, and so on.
Over the years, I have given probably thousands of public talks. And at some point, I said, I probably can reach people if I actually put some of this down in the form of a popular book." This is how I started writing these books, and once you get hooked, I guess it's hard to stop. So I've published four books really intended for people interested in some aspect of science.
What is one of the greatest challenges facing astronomy today?
I have to say dark energy. Its nature is arguably the biggest question physics faces today. I've given this a lot of thought, much more so than the actual number of papers I've written on the topic. Partly it's because I do not see a very easy breakthrough.
I have written at least one paper on the possibility that we must think in terms of anthropic reasoning--the notion that our universe is one of many, and some physical phenomena that are otherwise a mystery may be explained by our universe having to be such as to allow for complexity and intelligent life to emerge within it. This is not the way I would like the dark energy problem to be solved.
I hope dark energy will find explanation in the first principles of physics. But I might have to adjust my hopes. We may have to fall back on anthropic reasoning or a combination of the two.
What I do see, though, is that the answer is not going to come fully from observations. This is definitely one case where better observations will have to be accompanied by a real breakthrough in theoretical understanding, or we will not understand this phenomenon.
Source Citation:Ferron, Karri. "Mario Livio." Astronomy 37.11 (Nov 2009): 12. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 15 Oct. 2009
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