Fiorella Terenzi, Ph.D. (Astrophysicist / Author)
3.16 – Aliens & the Creation of Man (11.23.11)
Fiorella Terenzi is an Italian-born astrophysicist, author and recording artist who is best known for taking recordings of radio waves from far-away galaxies and turning them into music. She received her doctorate from the University of Milan but is currently based in the United States.
Described by Time magazine as “a cross between Carl Sagan and Madonna”, Dr. Terenzi has studied opera and composition at Conservatory G. Verdi, Corsi Popolari Serali and taught physics and astronomy at various U.S. colleges and universities; she is currently on the full-time faculty at Florida International University in Miami. In research at the Computer Audio Research Laboratory, University of California, San Diego, she pioneered techniques to convert radio waves emanating from distant galaxies into sound, with some of the results released by Island Records on her acclaimed CD Music from the Galaxies. The goal of her audiofication/sonification of celestial data is to investigate how sound could reflect chemical, dynamical and physical properties of celestial objects, what she calls “Acoustic Astronomy”.
Terenzi’s global media appearances include television and radio features on CNN’s “Future Watch”, The Dennis Miller Show, Sci Fi Channel, NPR Talk of the Nation, Weekend Edition and Science Friday, Newsweek on Air, Strange universe, History Channel’s “The Universe” and “Ancient Aliens”, and others. She has appeared and/or is referenced in numerous print media including The Wall Street Journal, People, Time, The Quest magazine, Electronic Musician magazine, Glamour magazine, Details magazine, Los Angeles Reader, and Los Angeles Daily News, as well as appearing internationally on the covers of Mondo 2000 magazine, New Frontier magazine, Atari Explorer magazine, Extropy magazine, Composer USA magazine, CD-ROM Today magazine and Eye Weekly (Toronto, Canada). She is profiled in the April, 2017 edition of Rockerilla, a monthly Italian music and cinema magazine.
Public Speaking / Lectures
In lectures at University of California – San Diego, Stanford, MIT, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History (NY), and in performances, live and on TV, in the US, Europe, and Japan, Terenzi has combined science and art to awaken people to the wonders of the universe. She has moderated hundreds of panels on science, technology, education and public outreach from Digital Hollywood to MacWorld and chaired the “Techno 2000” symposium at Pepperdine University. Terenzi’s speaking engagements embrace such topics as “Globalization of Education”, “Women in Space”, “The Business of Space”, “Values for a New Civilization”, “Art, Intelligence & Artificial Intelligence” and the most popular “Heavenly Knowledge” and “Invisible Universe”.
Dr. Terenzi addressed The New York Times International Luxury Conference, a two-day event bringing together over 500 business and creative leaders in Miami on December 2–3, 2014, in a talk entitled “The Collaborative Mind: Bridging Astrophysics and Aesthetics”, and was interviewed on AriseTV’s Arise Xchange news program in connection with her talk.
On April 2, 2017, Dr. Terenzi spoke at the University of Miami for the premiere of “Universal Language”, a documentary film exploring the source of music and vibrations, and their effect on the mind, body and soul, as told through the eyes of a deaf child, and she was previously interviewed for the film during its production.
On October 18, 2018, Dr. Terenzi participated on a panel at the Digital Hollywood- Los Angeles event discussing “Women on the Creative Edge: Experiences in a Changing Landscape”, and on October 29, 2018 she delivered a talk entitled “Star Songs: Experiencing the Unseeable” at California State University- Channel Islands, where she is also scheduled to present her multimedia musical production, “Let’s Get Astrophysical” during the Spring 2019 semester. On January 23, 2019, Dr. Terenzi also spoke on “The 4 Es of STEM Education: Entertain, Educate, Enthrall and Engage” at Califiornia State University- Northridge.
On May 21, 2019, Dr. Terenzi again participated on a panel at the Digital Hollywood- Los Angeles event discussing “Women on the Creative Edge: From Film to TV to Athletes, Wellness & Technology”.
During her term as Director of New Media at the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium, Terenzi arranged and hosted events including “National Astronomy Day”, produced Planetarium Shows including “Stars of the Seasons / Stars of the Sea”, developed content for grants including a NASA grant to deliver earth/space science on-line for high schools, and spoke at events from the NSF funded “Girls in Science” program, to the Florida Planetarium Directors Association, to the international State of the World Forum in New York.
Terenzi has taught astronomy and physics at Pace University (New York), City University of New York’s (Borough of Manhattan Community College and Bronx Community College), Brevard Community College, Pierce and Glendale College (Los Angeles). Currently, she is a full-time Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Florida International University (FIU), Miami, where in 2017 she received an FIU College of Arts, Sciences & Education Award for Engagement, which recognizes outstanding faculty who have distinguished themselves in the area of engagement.
FIU’s new Stocker AstroScience Center, opened in November, 2013, includes an interactive exhibit highlighting Dr. Terenzi’s research on the audiofication/sonification of celestial data entitled “Acoustic Astronomy: The Sounds of the Universe”.
Dr. Terenzi organized and hosted a March 2, 2018 event for FIU’s College of Arts, Science & Education entitled “Physics & Ferraris”, showcasing a variety of exotic Ferrari sports cars and featuring an address by renowned inventor, vehicle designer, and former Walt Disney Imagineering R&D president, Bran Ferren, whose talk explained the physics behind why various vehicles, ranging from airplanes to race cars, work.
On November 18, 2018, FIU presented Dr. Terenzi with its 2018 Torch Award for Outstanding Faculty, honoring the lasting impression she has made on the lives of the University’s students and alumni.
Outreach and Innovations
Among her outreach projects, Terenzi created the acclaimed, grant-winning “BCC Space&Astronomy Lecture Series” in an effort to inspire and educate the public, including current and potential future students, about the beauty and magnificence of the universe. Each month hundreds attend this lecture series.
She has a strong interest in innovative teaching techniques. In technology-mediated instruction she developed learning modules such as: “The Business of Space” to promote cultural diversity and global awareness about space and astronomy; “Astronomy in Paintings, Frescos, and Engravings” on how art has been used to explain the Universe from stars to galaxies; “Sounds of the Universe: Acoustic Astronomy” to stimulate intellectual curiosity and individual thinking; and an “Invisible Universe” learning module to explore celestial objects in multi-wavelengths.
Dr. Terenzi’s lectures are based on a unique blend of science and art, knowledge and emotion—a concept she calls “Emotional Learning,” since it is based on the 4 “E”s: Entertain, Educate, Enlighten, and Enthrall. “When you are engaged on these multiple levels, learning finds an emotional home, and it is remembered forever.”
Her creative and artistic bent also led her to create original collections of stellar-themed jewelry designs based on the color and symmetry of stars and galaxies, premiered for “ShopNBC” as “GemAllure” in white gold, diamonds and blue sapphires and for “QVC Japan” as “Stellare” in silver and cubic zirconia.
Dr. Terenzi premiered her unique new “Let’s Get Astrophysical” multi-media show for the Miami Beach Centennial Celebration on March 23, 2015 on the oceanfront Hard Rock Rising stage in South Beach. The show featured the first and only Top-15 Stellar-Themed Pop Song Countdown, including songs from Muse, One Republic, Oasis, Incubus, Fallout Boys, Katy Perry, Hardwell and Daft Punk, combined with live DJs, musicians, dancers, and acrobats, plus a laser light show.
“Let’s Get Astrophysical” was successfully reprised on May 3-4, 2019 at the Arts Under the Stars Festival at California State University- Channel Islands.
Dr. Terenzi is the first person to be a member of both the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (Grammy Awards) and the American Astronomical Society. She has been an Apple Computer AppleMaster since 1994, and she is Vice-President and Miami-Dade Social Chair of the Ferrari Club of America – Florida Region.
She is an “Adviser and Scientific Consultant” to the Italian Academy of food for the “Italian Food in Space” effort, enabling NASA Space Shuttle mission STS-120 (Oct. 23, 2007) to include a unique Italian menu consumed and shared among the astronauts in the International Space Station on the 5th day of its mission. She worked with the ASI/ESA astronaut, Paolo Nespoli, who was a crew member on the Shuttle and the International Space Station.
Dr. Terenzi served on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation and on the Foundation’s Asteroid/Comet Impacts Board.
Ermenegildo Zegna’s renowned fashion designer Stefano Pilati commissioned Dr. Terenzi to create a journey into space, using real images and her acoustic astronomy sounds in a ground-breaking video for Zegna’s Fall-Winter 2014 Men’s Collection. This new union of fashion and astrophysics was described by the New York Times as “Zegna’s Very Big Bang”, and generated extensive worldwide publicity. “No one has ever done anything like this before”, said Gildo Zegna.
A new version of this video, which represents a collaboration between Terenzi, fellow astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Pilati, is entitled “City and Nature- Scientist Cut”. It forms the framework of an innovative new 23-window display at Harrods, the luxury London department store. From October 2–19, 2014, new “Whispering Window” technology will allow Dr. Terenzi’s space sounds, accompanied by Tchaikovsky, to be shared with passing pedestrians as they enjoy seeing for themselves how the seemingly disparate worlds of science and fashion complement one another.