Dr. Mario Livio
Space Telescope Science Institute
Dr. Mario Livio is the head of the new Institute Science Division at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Dr. Livio joined the institute in 1991 as head of the Archive Branch.
Prior to joining the institute, he completed his undergraduate studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, majoring in both physics and mathematics. He received a Master of Science degree in theoretical particle physics at the Weizmann Institute, and a doctorate in theoretical astrophysics at Tel-Aviv University. He was a professor of physics in the physics department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology from 1981 until 1991.
Dr. Livio came to his career in physics via a long and winding path. As Dr. Livio himself writes:
"I was born in 1945 in Romania. When I was a few months old, both my parents had to flee Romania for political reasons, and I was left with my grandparents until the age of 5. In 1950, most Romanian Jews were pressured to leave, and I immigrated with my grandparents to Israel. I served in the obligatory military service for three years, and continued to serve for 40 days each year in the obligatory reserve military service, until I left in 1991. I was a paramedic in a special field hospital unit that could be parachuted, transported by choppers, or by marine landing boats. It was with this unit that I was in the 1967 ('Six Day') war, the 1973 ('Yom Kippur') war and the 1982 war in Lebanon. In the Yom Kippur war, we were the only medical unit that crossed the Suez Canal."
A love for astrophysics somehow emerged and persisted, with a special interest in the accretion of mass by black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs. In 1999, Dr. Livio focused particularly on the topics of supernova explosions and their use in cosmology to determine the rate of expansion of the universe, on the formation of black holes and the possibility to extract energy from them, on the formation of planets in disks around young stars, and on the emergence of intelligent life in the universe.
Dr. Livio is a self-proclaimed 'art fanatic' who owns many hundreds of art books. Recently, he combined his passions for science and art in the popular book "The Accelerating Universe," which has just appeared. The book discusses the 'beauty' of fundamental theories of the universe.