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Select Popular Science Writing


Scientific American, June 1, 2023

Human intelligence may be just a brief phase before machines take over. That may answer where the aliens are hiding.


Nautilus, February 24, 2021

We are near the end of Darwinian evolution, but technological evolution of intelligent beings is just beginning. Were we to detect ET, it would be far more likely to be electronic, where the dominant creatures aren’t flesh and blood—and perhaps aren’t even tied to a planetary surface.


"Physics Today," March 2017

The search for extraterrestrial life is increasingly informed by our knowledge of exoplanets. Within three decades, we may know whether extrasolar life is rare.


"Nature," May 2013

Blunders are an essential part of the scientific process. Research is not a linear march to the truth but a zigzag path, involving trial and error. . . .


Scientific American, April 19, 2023

For centuries, scientific discoveries have suggested humanity occupies no privileged place in the universe. Now, however, studies of worlds beyond our solar system could place meaningful new limits on our existential mediocrity


"Scientific American," Fall 2017

Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating? After two decades of study, the answer is as mysterious as ever, but the questions have become clearer.


"Nature," April 15, 2015

Twenty-five years after launch, the wild success of the space telescope argues for a new era of bold exploration in the face of tight budgets.


Salon, May 3, 2020

Since the Renaissance, the fundament of Western civilization has been an embrace of rationalism, which has become foundational to governance, economics and technology. Trump and his ilk reject this. Four centuries after the scientific revolution initiated by Galileo Galilei, how is it possible that we are still be witnessing such rampant science denial?


"Nature," Feb 2017

A newly unearthed article by the great politician reveals that he reasoned like a scientist about the likelihood of extraterrestrials.


"Scientific American," August 2011

Is math invented or discovered? A leading astrophysicist suggests that the answer to the millennia-old question is both.

Scientific Journal Publications

The below is a sample of scientific articles representing Dr. Livio’s research. For a full list, see here

  • Livio, M. & Mazzali, P., “On the Progenitors of Type Ia Supernovae,” Physics Reports, 736, 1 (2018).

  • Livio, M. & Rees, M. J.,  “Fine-Tuning, Complexity, and Life in the Multiverse,” arXiv 1801 06944 (2018).

  • Martin, R. G. & Livio, M., “The Solar System As an Exoplanetary System,” ApJ, 810, 105 (2015).

  • Villaver, E., Livio, M., Mustill, A. J., & Siess, L., “Hot Jupiters and Cool Stars,” ApJ, 794, 3 (2014). 

  • Martin, R., & Livio, M., “On the Evolution of the Snow Line in Protoplanetary Disks,” MNRAS, 425, L6 (2012).

  • Martin, R., & Livio, M., “On the Formation and Evolution of Asteroid Belts and Their Potential Significance for Life,” MNRAS, 428, L11 (2013). 

  • Schlichting, H., Ofek, E., Sari, R., Nelan, E., Gal-Yam, A., Wenz, M., Muirhead, P., Javanfar, N., & Livio, M., “Measuring the Abundance of Sub-Kilometer-Sized Kuiper Belt Objects Using Stellar Occultations,” ApJ, 761, 150 (2012). 

  • Osten, R., Livio, M., Lubow, S., Pringle, J., Soderblom, D., & Valenti, J., “Coronal Mass Ejection as a Mechanism for Producing IR Variability in Debris Disks,” ApJ, 765, L44 (2013). 

  • Livio, M. & Pringle, J. E., “On Identifying the Progenitors of Type Ia Supernovae,” ApJ, 740, L18 (2011). 

  • Clarkson, W. I., Sahu, K. C., Anderson, J., Rich, R. M., Smith, T. Ed., Brown, T. M., Bond, H. E., Livio, M., Minniti, D., Renzini, A., & Zoccali, M., “The First Detection of Blue Straggler Stars in the Milky Way Bulge,” ApJ, 735, 37 (2011). 

  • Charles, P. A., McGowan, K. E., Blustin, A. J., Livio, M., O’Donoghue, D., & Heath- cote, B., “Supersoft X-ray Sources: Confronting the van den Heuvel Paradigm,” New Astronomy Reviews, 54, 75 (2010). 

  • Villaver, E. & Livio, M. “The Orbital Evolution of Gas Giant Planets Around Giant Stars,” ApJ, 705, L81 (2009). 

  • Bellan, P., Livio, M., Kato, Y., Lebedev, S., Ray, T., Ferrari, A., Hartigan, P., Frank, A., Foster, J., & Nicolai, P., “Astrophysical Jets: Observations, Numerical Simulations, and Laboratory Experiments,” Physics of Plasmas, 16, 041005 (2009). 

  • Caproni, A., Abraham, Z., Livio, M., & Mosquera Cuesta, H. J., “Is the Bardeen- Petterson Effect Responsible for the Warping and Precession in NGC 4258?” MNRAS, 379, 135 (2007). 

  • Riess, A. G. et al., “New Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries of Type Ia Supernovae at z ≥ 1: Narrowing Constraints on the Early Behavior of Dark Energy,” ApJ, 659, 98 (2007). 

  • Caproni, A., Livio, M., Abraham, Z., & Mosquera Cuesta, H. J., “Warping and Pre- cession in Galactic and Extragalactic Accretion Disks,” ApJ, 653, 112 (2006). 

  • Sahu, K. C. et al., “Transiting Extrasolar Planetary Candidates in the Galactic Bulge,” Nature, 443, 534 (2006). 

  • Riess, A. G. & Livio, M., “The First Type Ia Supernovae: An Empirical Approach to Taming Evolutionary Effects in Dark Energy Surveys from SNe Ia at z > 2,” ApJ, 648, 884 (2006). 

  • Fruchter, A. S. et al., “Long γ-ray Bursts and Core-collapse Supernovae Have Different Environments,” Nature, 441, 463 (2006). 

  • Livio, M. & Rees, M. J., “Anthropic Reasoning,” Science, 309, 1022 (2005).

  • Livio, M., Pringle, J. E., & Wood, K., “Disks and Planets around Massive White Dwarfs,” ApJ, 632, L37 (2005). 

  • Beer, M. E., King, A. R., Livio, M., & Pringle, J. E., “How Special Is the Solar System?” MNRAS, 354, 763 (2004).

  • Strolger, L., Riess, A., Dahlen, T., Livio, M. et al., “The Hubble High z Supernova Search: Supernovae to z ∼ 1.6 and Constraints on Type Ia Progenitor Models,” ApJ, 613, 200 (2004).

  • Dahlen, T. et al., “High-z Supernova Rates,” ApJ, 613, 189 (2004). 

  • Alexander, T. & Livio, M., “Orbital Capture of Stars by a Massive Black Hole via Exchanges with Compact Remnants,” ApJ, 606, L21 (2004). 

  • Giavalisco, M., et al., “The Rest-Frame UV Luminosity Density of Star-Forming Galax- ies at z > 3.5,” ApJ, 600, L103 (2004).

  • Riess, A. G., et al., “Type Ia Supernova Discoveries at z > 1 from HST: Evidence for Past Deceleration and Constraints on Dark Energy Evolution,” ApJ, 607, 665 (2004). 

  • Livio, M. & Riess, A. G., “Have the Elusive Progenitors of Type Ia Supernovae Been Discovered?” ApJ, 594, L93 (2003). 

  • Somerville, R., Bullock, J. S., & Livio, M., “The Epoch of Reionization in Models with the Reduced Small Scale Power,” ApJ, 593, 616 (2003). 

  • Siess, L., Livio, M., & Lattanzio, J., “Structure, Evolution, and Nucleosynthesis of Primordial Stars,” ApJ, 570, 329 (2002). 

  • Armitage, P. J., Livio, M., Lubow, S. H., & Pringle, J. E., “Predictions for the Fre- quency and Orbital Radii of Massive Extrasolar Planets,” MNRAS, 334, 248 (2002). 

  • Riess, A. G., et al., “The Farthest Known Supernova: Support for an Accelerating Universe and a Glimpse of the Epoch of Deceleration,” ApJ, 560, 49 (2001). 

  • Corradi, R. L. M., Livio, M., Balick, B., Munari, U., & Schwarz, H. E., “The Southern Crab from a New Perspective,” ApJ, 553, 211 (2001). 

  • Ogilvie, G. I. & Livio, M., “Launching of Jets and the Vertical Structure of Accretion Disks,” ApJ, 553, 158 (2001). 

  • Godon, P. & Livio, M., “The Formation and Role of Vortices in Protoplanetary Disks,” ApJ, 537, 396 (2000). 

  • Livio, M. & Waxman, E., “Towards a Model for the Progenitors of Gamma-Ray Bursts,” ApJ, 538, 187 (2000). 

  • Garriga, J., Livio, M., & Vikenkin, A., “The Cosmological Constant and the Time of its Dominance,” Phys. Rev. D, 61, 023503 (2000). 

  • Junor, W., Biretta, J. A., & Livio, M., “Formation of the Radio Jet in M87 at 100 Schwarzschild Radii from the Central Black Hole,” Nature, 401, 891 (1999). 

  • Xu, C., Livio, M., & Baum, S., “Radio Loud and Radio Quiet AGN,” AJ, 118, 1169 (1999). 

  • Tout, C., Livio, M., & Bonnell, I., “The Ages of Pre-Main-Sequence Stars,” MNRAS, 310, 360 (1999). 

  • Livio, M., Ogilvie, G., & Pringle, J., “Extracting Energy from Black Holes,” ApJ, 512, 100 (1999).

  • Livio, M., “How Rare Are Extraterrestrial Civilizations?” ApJ, 511, 429, (1999).

  • Livio, M. & Stiavelli, M., “Does the Fine Structure Constant Really Vary in Time?” ApJ, 507, L13 (1999). 

  • Siess, L. & Livio, M., “The Accretion of Brown Dwarfs and Planets by Giant Stars II,” MNRAS, 308, 1133 (1999). 

  • Livio, M. & Pringle, J. E., “The Rotation Rates of White Dwarfs and Pulsars,” ApJ, 505, 339 (1998). 

  • Ogilvie, G. I. & Livio, M., “On the Difficulty of Launching an Outflow from an Accre- tion Disk,” ApJ, 499, 329 (1998). 

  • Livio, M., Xu, C., & Frank, J., “On the Magnetic Field Evolution in Isolated Neutron Stars,” ApJ, 492, 298 (1998). 

  • Sahu, K. C., Livio, M., et al., “The Optical Counterpart to Gamma-Ray Burst GRB 970228 Observed Using HST,” Nature, 387, 476 (1997). 

  • Yungelson, L., Livio, M., & Tutukov, A., “On the Rate of Novae in Galaxies of Different Types,” ApJ, 481, 127 (1997). 

  • Livio, M. & Pringle, J. E., “Wobbling Accretion Disks, Jets, and Point-Symmetric Nebulae,” ApJ, 486, 835 (1997). 

  • Chen, W., Shrader, C. R., & Livio, M., “The Properties of X-Ray and Optical Light Curves of X-Ray Novae,” ApJ, 491, 312 (1997). 

  • Rasio, F., Tout, C., Lubow, S., & Livio, M., “Tidal Decay of Close Planetary Orbits,” ApJ, 470, 1187 (1996). 

  • Frank, A., Balick, B., & Livio, M., “A Mechanism for the Production of Jets and Ansae in Planetary Nebulae,” ApJ, 471, L53 (1996). 

  • Southwell, K. A., Livio, M., Charles, P. A., O’Donoghue, D., & Southerland, W. J., “The Nature of the Supersoft X-Ray Source RX J0513-69,” ApJ, 470, 1065 (1996).

  • Rasio, F. A., & Livio, M., “On the Formation and Evolution of Common Envelope Systems,” ApJ, 471, 366 (1996).

  • Giavalisco, M., Livio, M., Bohlin, R. C., Macchetto, F. D., & Stecher, T. P., “On the Morphology of the HST Faint Galaxies,” AJ, 112, 369 (1996). 

  • Armitage, P. J., Livio, M., & Pringle, J. E., “Dynamo Driven Accretion Discs and Dwarf Nova Eruptions,” ApJ, 457, 332 (1996).

  • Cannizzo, J. K., Chen, W., & Livio, M., “The Accretion Disk Limit Cycle Instability in Black Hole X-Ray Binaries,” ApJ, 454, 880 (1996). 

  • Branch, D., Livio, M., Yungelson, L., Boffi, F. & Baron, E., “In Search of the Progen- itors of Type Ia Supernovae,” PASP, 107, 1019 (1995). 

  • Nota, A., Livio, M., Clampin, M., & Schulte-Ladbeck, R., “Luminous Blue Variables: A Unified Picture,” ApJ, 448, 788 (1995). 

  • Paresce, F., Livio, M., Hack, W. & Korista, K., “The Structure and Evolution of the Nova V1974 Cygni Shell from HST Observations,” A&A, 299, 823 (1995). 

  • Balsara, D., Livio, M., & O’Dea, C. P., “Galaxies in Clusters: Gas Stripping and Accretion,” ApJ, 437, 83 (1994). 

  • Livio, M. & Truran, J. W., “On the Interpretation and Implications of Nova Abun- dances,” ApJ, 425, 797 (1994). 

  • Iben, I. Jr. & Livio, M., “Common Envelopes in Binary Star Evolution,” PASP, 105, 1373 (1993). 

  • Chen, W., Livio, M., & Gehrels, N., “The Secondary Maxima in Black Hole X-Ray Light Curves: Clues toward a Complete Picture,” ApJ, 408, L5 (1993). 

  • Gat, O. & Livio, M., “Dynamical Stability of Two-Dimensional Accretion Flows,” ApJ, 396, 542 (1992). 

  • Livio, M. & Rosen, N., “Astrophysical Jets and Theories of Gravitation,” ApJ, 387, 458 (1992). 

  • Livio, M., “Novae and the Extragalactic Distance Scale,” ApJ, 393, 516 (1992). 

  • Matsuda, T., Ishii, T., Sekino, N., Sawada, K., Shima, E., Livio, M., & Anzer, U., “Numerical Simulations of 2D and 3D Accretion Flows,” MNRAS, 255, 183 (1992). 

  • Livio, M., Soker, N., Matsuda, T., & Anzer, U., “The Nature of the ‘Flip-Flop’ Insta- bility in Accretion Flows,” MNRAS, 253, 633 (1991). 

  • Livio, M., “On the Expected Orbital Change in the Next Outburst of the Recurrent Nova T Pyxidis,” ApJ, 369, L5 (1991). 

  • Abramowicz, M., Livio, M., Soker, N., & Szuszkiewicz, E., “Local Stability of Thick Accretion Disks,” A&A, 239, 399 (1990). 

  • Mochkovitch, R. & Livio, M., “The Coalescence of White Dwarfs and Type I Super- novae: The Merged Configuration,” A&A, 236, 378 (1990). 

  • Bond, H. E. & Livio, M., “Morphologies of Planetary Nebulae Ejected by Close-Binary Nuclei,” ApJ, 355, 568 (1990). 

  • Livio, M., Holwell, D., Weiss, A., & Truran, J. W., “On the Anthropic Significance of the Energy of the O+ Excited State of 12C at 7.644 MeV,” Nature, 340, 281 (1989).

  • Eichler, D., Livio, M., Piran, T., & Schramm, D. N., “Coalescing Neutron Stars, Naked Neutrino Bursts, Gamma Rays, Gravitational Radiation and r-Process Nucleosynthe- sis,” Nature, 340, 126 (1989). 

  • Livio, M. & Verbunt, F., “The Response of an Accretion Disk Radius to a Temporary Enhancement of Mass Transfer,” MNRAS, 232, 1 (1988). 

  • Livio, M. & Soker, N., “The Common Envelope Phase in the Evolution of Binary Stars,” ApJ, 329, 764 (1988). 

  • Webbink, R. F., Livio, M., Truran, J. W., & Orio, M., “The Nature of Recurrent Novae,” ApJ, 314, 653 (1987). 

  • Livio, M., Soker, N., de Kool, M., & Savonije, G. J., “Accretion from an Inhomogeneous Medium III: General Case and Observational Consequences,” MNRAS, 222, 235 (1986). 

  • Truran, J. W. & Livio, M., “On the Frequency of Occurrence of O-Ne-Mg White Dwarfs in Classical Nova Systems,” ApJ, 308, 721 (1986). 

  • Livio, M. & Regev, O., “X-Ray Burst Sources A Model for Chaotic Behavior,” A&A, 148, 133 (1984). 

  • Abramowicz, M. A., Livio, M., Piran, T., & Wiita, P. J., “Local Stability of Thick Accretion Basic Equations and Parallel Perturbations in the Negligible Viscosity Case,” ApJ, 279, 367 (1984). 

  • Regev, O. & Livio, M. “Thermal Cycles from a Two-Zone Accreting Model X-Ray Bursts and Shell Flashes,” A&A, 134, 123 (1984). 

  • Livio, M., Regev, O., & Shaviv, G., “Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability in Clusters of Galax- ies,” ApJ, 240, L83 (1980). 

  • Livio, M., Buchler, J. R., & Colgate, S. A., “Taylor Instability and Supernova Explo- sions A Two Dimensional Numerical Study,” ApJ, 238, L139 (1980). 

  • Livio, M., Shara, M. M., & Shaviv, G., “X-Ray Intensities from the Flow of a Stellar Wind Past a Compact Object,” ApJ, 233, 704 (1979). 

  • Livio, M. Salzman, J., & Shaviv, G., “Planetary Nebulae with Close Binary Nuclei,” MNRAS, 188, 1 (1979). 

  • Livio, M., Regev, O., & Shaviv, G., “On the Role of Viscosity in Clusters of Galaxies,” A&A, 70, L7 (1978). 

  • Livio, M. & Shaviv, G., “On the Stability of Accretion Disks,” A&A, 55, 95 (1977). 

  • Livio, M. & Shaviv, G., “On the Light Curve of HZ Hercules,” A&A, 42, 17 (1975).

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