Mario Livio (born 1945) is an Israeli-American astrophysicist and an author of works that popularize science and mathematics. From 1991 till 2015 he was an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope. He is perhaps best known for his book on the irrational number phi: The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number (2002). The book won the Peano Prize and the International Pythagoras Prize for popular books on mathematics.
Livio was born in Romania and lived with his grandparents when his mother and father were forced to flee the country for political reasons. He left Romania at age five with his grandparents, and the family settled in Israel. He served with the Israeli Defense Forces as a paramedic in the 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and the 1982 Lebanon War.
Livio earned a B.S. degree in physics and mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an M.S. degree in theoretical particle physics at the Weizmann Institute, and a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics at Tel-Aviv University. He was a professor of physics at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology from 1981 to 1991, before moving to the Space Telescope Science Institute.
From 2000 Livio focused his research on supernova explosions and their use in determining the rate of expansion of the universe. He has also studied so-called dark energy, black holes, and the formation of planetary systems around young stars. He has contributed to hundreds of papers in refereed journals on astrophysics. In 2009, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Council elected him as a Fellow of the AAAS. Livio was cited for his "distinguished contributions to astrophysics through research on stars and galaxies and through communicating and interpreting science and mathematics to the public." He is also cited in the American Men and Women of Science.
Dr. Livio has been nominated three times by the USA Science and Engineering Festival as one of the "Nifty Fifty Speakers" to talk about his work and career to middle and high school students in 2010, 2011, and 2013. Other honors include Carnegie Centenary Professor in 2003, Danz Distinguished Lecturer in 2006, Resnick Distinguished Lecturer in 2006, Iben Distinguished Lecturer in 2008, and Terzian Distinguished Lecturer in 2011.
Livio and his wife Sofie, a microbiologist, have three children.