Heavenly Knowledge:: An Astrophysicist Seeks Wisdom In The Stars

Heavenly Knowledge:: An Astrophysicist Seeks Wisdom In The Stars

by Fiorella Terenzi


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380790012
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/09/1999
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.27(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.49(d)

About the Author

DR. FIORELLA TERENZI has a doctorate in physics from the University of Milan, with specialization in astrophysics. She has studied opera and composition and taught math and physics.

At the Computer Audio Research Laboratory, University of California San Diego, she developed techniques to convert radio waves from galaxies into sound-released on her CD, Music From the Galaxies (Island Records). Her CD-ROM, Invisible Universe (Voyager), combined astronomy and music to present the universe beyond sight and won the Significant Achievement Award for "Most Creative Application of Multimedia in Higher and Adult Education."

In lectures and performances on television and at planetariums in the U.S., Europe and Japan, Dr. Terenzi has combined science and art to awaken people to the universe around them. She is the first astrophysicist/recording artist member of both the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the American Astronomical Society. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt



I am five years old. I am walking hand in hand with my grandmother in the country outside of Milan. Our barefeet pad across the soft, damp grass. Alongside us, my little doing, Birba, scampers excitedly. Suddenly, my grandmother halts and points ,above us to the heavens.

"Guarda! Look!" she says. "That star! The brightest one—she is looking at us!''

I laugh, but she goes on seriously. "Yes, piccola, all the stars have eyes to watch us. Look carefully!"

I do look carefully. And in that I instant feel the star gaze back at me. I feel as f it is a stellar heart that beats with mine. For a moment, all the loneliness of my childhood evaporates. I feel a peacefulness, a oneness with all of the Universe that I have never felt before.

"Remember this," my grandmother says. "Most people cannot look straight into a star's eyes. They are frightened and ashamed. But not you, Fiorella. You will always be able to feel the stars looking back at you."

I often think about that first extraterrestrial gaze. How it made me quiver with awe. How it made me feel both like the center of the Universe and like an invisible microdot lost in incomprehensible space. I felt both magnificently empowered by this magical array of stellar jewelry and terribly humbled by the infinite vastness of it all. At that moment, I knew not a thing about quasars and black holes and brown dwarves; I did not even know that radio telescopes existed, let alone that at one point of my life I would spend years "peering" through one. All I knew was that the sky had suddenly opened up to me and I would never be the same again.

The first human must have felt something akin to this when she steppedout of her cave and turned her eyes skyward: shaken, empowered, humbled, mystified. What is this glorious display, this radiant cave ceiling that arches over the entire landscape? What is this fiery ball that cruises across the sky by day? This pale crescent that rises from behind the mountains and follows me through the night? And that sudden streak of light that leaves its ephemeral mark in the sky like a piece of stone scratched against the cave wall—what is that?

Am I a part of all of this? Can I ever know it? Does it know me? What does it tell me about my life? Can it show me how to construct my own internal universe?

For me, on the eve of the 21st Century with astounding new cosmic discoveries occurring at observatories almost daily, these first questions remain the most profound questions astrophysics can ask.

And yet somehow the sense of how I felt on that night with my grandmother easily fades from the professional astronomer's mind and heart, just as the sky fades from view when the lights of the cities emit an impenetrable pale curtain between earth and sky. We become blinded by a technological barrier of abstract mathematical theorems and complex astronomical machinery, and we forget to feel the wonder of infinite space. We fail to communicate with loquacious celestial objects. We fall into the 20th Century trap of believing that the only knowledge we can gain from the Universe is objective facts and not poetic truths about our lives. We become deaf to the music of the spheres. And worst of all, we are afraid to look into the stars' eyes.

Heavenly Knowledge is my attempt to bring this sense of wonder back to astronomy. I enthusiastically embrace the fabulous new discoveries of astrophysics, but I do not want to stop there. I want these discoveries to swim in our imaginations to open our hearts to new ways of thinking and feeling about life, about men and women, about catastrophes and rituals. I want us all to hear how the music of the spheres resonates with the music of our hearts.

Copyright ) 1998 by Dr. Fiorella Terenzi

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Heavenly Knowledge: An Astrophysicist Seeks Wisdom in the Stars 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Fiorella Terenzi is one of those few rare women who can appreciate the beauties of Science and Nature and apply the two to everyday Human Life and Affairs. In 'Heavenly Knowledge', she offers a fresh new look at Astronomy and how the behavior of Stars and other Celestial Objects can be applied to peoples ongoing trials and tribulations in their daily lives. She does this in such a poignant and simple fashion that no radio advice show could ever do. It's all a matter of taking charge of your own life and affairs and applying the necessary clarity to see what has to be done and DO IT. Dr Terenzi is fabulous. She embodies the best of Science, Astronomy, Writing, Music and Humanitarianism to offer a way of fulfillment to anyone feeling a void in their lives that needs to be filled. Res Gesta Par Excellantium, Doctori!