A photo of Dr. Mario Livio. Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist, a bestselling author, and a popular lecturer. He is married to Sofie, a microbiologist, and they have three children, Sharon, Oren, and Maya.

Below you can find information about his most recent book,”Brilliant Blunders”. The book discusses major mistakes made by five giant scientists, and explains the role of blunders in the scientific process.

You can read Livio’s blog “A Curious Mind”, or his blog on the Huffington Post, follow him on Twitter at @Mario_Livio, or drop him a line on Facebook at Mario Livio.

Brilliant Blunders

Available at your favorite bookstore

Book Cover: Is God A Mathematician?
Order this book from Amazon.

BRILLIANT BLUNDERS discusses serious mistakes by five scientific giants. Here is a brief summary:

Darwin used a completely wrong theory of genetics. He’s not to blame for that, no better theory was known at his time. But he didn’t realize that with that theory
Natural Selection would never have worked.

Kelvin calculated an age for the Earth that was about 50 times shorter than the true age.

Pauling suggested a model for DNA that was not only built inside-out compared to the correct one, but also had the wrong number of strands.

Hoyle thought that our universe remains the same throughout eternity, and that new matter is continuously created in the increasing cosmos.

Einstein added a term to his equations to keep the universe from collapsing under its own weight. He later took it out. Oddly, both actions turned out to be mistakes!

All of these blunders related to EVOLUTION: Of life, of the Earth, of stars, and of the Universe as a whole.
The key point is that mistakes in any discipline that is based on creative thinking and innovation are not only inevitable, they are an ESSENTIAL part of progress. If not for blunders, we would be traveling for too long down too many blind alleys. Breakthroughs require the willingness to embrace risks and to accept errors as potential portals of discovery.
All the mistakes above turned out to be catalysts for enormous steps forward.

Advance praise for Mario Livio’s “BRILLIANT BLUNDERS”

“Mario Livio sets the discoveries of five great scientists who were also remarkable personalities in their social context, showing how they emerged from confusion and controversy. His archival research allows him to debunk several myths that have been given currency through less thorough biographies. You don’t need to be a scientist to be fascinated by this scholarly, insightful and beautifully written book.”

—Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of From Here to Infinity: A Vision for the Future of Science

“It is said that genius is the ability to make all possible mistakes in the least amount of time. Livio’s genius is to show us just how much those mistakes have taught us.”

—Adam Riess, Thomas Barber Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2011

“Mario Livio wears many hats: scientist, sleuth, storyteller. In Brilliant Blunders, a delightful intellectual synthesis, he reminds us that he’s also one of the best science writers in our galaxy.”

—Steven Strogatz, professor of applied mathematics, Cornell University, and author of The Joy of X

“In Brilliant Blunders, Mario Livio leaves no historical detail untold, as we re-walk the error-filled pathways along which human understanding of the universe slowly emerged.”

—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History, and author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

“One of the most important things that distinguishes science from religion is that in science we (eventually) are happy to change our minds. This is called learning. As Mario Livio eloquently describes in this far-reaching and thoroughly enlightening book, many famous scientific advances involved either false starts or dead ends. In my own field, Einstein is purported to have said that inserting the cosmological constant into his equations of General Relativity was his ‘biggest blunder.’ In hindsight, as we find ourselves living in a Universe whose future may be determined by this quantity, most of us would now pay our eye teeth to have made such blunder!”

—Lawrence M. Krauss, Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration; author of A Universe from Nothing

All content © Mario Livio unless noted otherwise.