Richard A. Muller

Author, Energy for Future Presidents and Physics for Future Presidents
Professor of Physics and Chair of Berkeley Earth, University of California, Berkeley

One of the world’s great teachers and scientists explores today’s most pressing issues as illuminated by science.

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#10 on Foreign Policy’s 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers

Richard Muller is a legendary professor of physics whose life-long mission is to explain current world events with the help of the physical sciences. The result is a set of astounding insights into everything from understanding the ice ages to the latest terrorist threat facing the homeland to the complexities of global warming to the very origins of the universe.

Dr. Muller chaired a team of scientists in the Berkley Earth Project, an independent research study of global-warming. The team analyzed information from more then 100 years of data and thousands of instruments around the world to show a historic record of the planet’s temperature change. This intensive research concluded that global-warming is real and that the rate of warming was correct and it is largely a man-made problem. Dr. Muller is now a converted climate-change skeptic.

He is the author of numerous books, most notably Physics for Future Presidents, based on his Berkeley lecture series. His newest book is Energy for Future Presidents. Richard has also writter The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide. With this guide, Richard shows his ability to entertain while readers absorb scientific curiosities.

Richard is the recipient of a MacArthur genius fellowship for his contributions to the study of geology and astrophysics. He is number 10 on Foreign Policy's 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers list. Along with Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Amy Chua, Dr. Muller was named 2011 Brave Thinker by The Atlantic.

"We have confidence that the temperature rise that had previously been reported had been done without bias." — Richard Muller

Berkeley Earth Project
Richard Muller is chair of Berkeley Earth, an independent, non-political, non-partisan group aimed at finding an independent assessment of global warming. Using new computer tools and 1.6bn data points of information, the team analyzed information from more then 100 years of data and thousands of instruments around the world to show a historic record of the planet’s temperature change. Dr. Muller and the Berkeley Earth team completed their analysis. Here is a summary of their findings.

A prolific researcher, Richard is credited with discoveries that have deepened our understanding of space, the composition of the cosmos, and even the nature of fossils dug up here on earth. In addition, he is a mentor to a generation of young scientists and engineers who are now in the process of reinventing our world.

Richard teaches a prize-winning course — twice voted the best class at Berkeley — in physics aimed at non-science students. He explains the course as an entrée into current world problems and the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders for a technological world:

"I think of physics as the liberal arts of technology ... I’m teaching the elementary physics that is most useful for someone who’s trying to live in a technological world, to contribute to that world, and to make correct decisions."
— Richard in The Berkeleyan, 26 February 2003

Richard’s essay "Physics for Future Presidents" is included in The American Academy of Arts and Sciences volume of Science and the Educated American: A Core Component of Liberal Education. This collection features experts describing ways to help institutions of higher learning instill in students a curiosity about science and an appreciation for its profound impact on everyday life.

His textbook *Physics and Technology for Future Presidents is currently in use at 44 universities around the US and one in Pakistan. Twenty-six of his lectures from this renowned course can now be viewed on YouTube.

Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Based on his Berkeley lecture series on science for non-science students, the book presents an eye- opening exploration of everything from terrorism to energy issues to nuclear weapons to outer space — all illuminated by the light of scientific principles. Chosen for the 2011-2012 Common Reading program at Washington State University.

"one of eight "great books" on energy and environment."
— Bill Gates at TED 2010

"A marvelously readable and level-headed explanation of basic science and how it relates to the issues."
— New York Times*

"Should be required reading for all informed citizens, as well as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain."
— Publishers Weekly*

He has been a popular columnist for MIT’s Technology Review, where he has applied the lessons of physics to important issues of the day, enticing readers with provocative articles such as "Global Warming Bombshell," "Dirty Bombs," "Airport Insecurity," and even "The Physics of Gluttony."

Richard has been heard on National Public Radio and has recently appeared in the pages of The Wall Street Journal with an op-ed on the challenges of ending global warming. Dr. Muller appeared on The O’Reilly Factor as a key expert during the Japan’s nuclear crisis.

Awards and Honors

  • #10 on Foreign Policy's 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers
  • The Atlantic’s 2011 Brave Thinker
  • National Science Foundation Award
  • MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship
  • Science Digest list of 100 Outstanding Scientists Under Age 40
  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • Newsweek citation as one of 25 Innovators in the US
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, UC Berkeley
  • Fellow, California Academy of Arts and Sciences


  • PhD, Physics, University of California at Berkeley
  • BA, Columbia University


Energy for Future Presidents

The Science Behind the Headlines

Richard A. Muller

The author of Physics for Future Presidents returns to educate all of us on the most crucial conundrum facing the nation: energy.

The near-meltdown of Fukushima, the upheavals in the Middle East, the BP oil rig explosion, and the looming reality of global warming have reminded the president and all U.S. citizens that nothing has more impact on our lives than the supply of and demand for energy. Its procurement dominates our economy and foreign policy more than any other factor. But the “energy question” is more confusing, contentious, and complicated than ever before. We need to know if nuclear power will ever really be safe. We need to know if solar and wind power will ever really be viable. And we desperately need to know if the natural gas deposits in Pennsylvania are a windfall of historic proportions or a false hope that will create more problems than solutions. Richard A. Muller provides all the answers in this must-read guide to our energy priorities now and in the coming years. 50 photographs

W. W. Norton & Company (August 27, 2012)

The Instant Physicist

Richard A. Muller

Wine is radioactive? Organic foods have more poison in them than those grown with pesticides? Best-selling author Richard A. Muller enlightens us.

Richard A. Muller demonstrated in his recent bestseller, Physics for Future Presidents, that he has a unique talent for delivering the “aha” moment — making difficult topics accessible. In The Instant Physicist he shows his ability to entertain, too, by presenting the best of the scientific curiosities he has assembled over his distinguished career. Assisted by award-winning cartoonist Joey Manfre, who has created an original color cartoon for each “physics bite,” Muller will have readers chuckling while they’re absorbing more science than they ever thought possible. From the surprising (chocolate has more energy in it than TNT) to the scary (even kids can make a bomb), this book contains a revelation on every page. Once finished with this page-turner, readers will be the stars of their next cocktail party.

The book consists of a color cartoon on each right-hand page and explanatory text on the left.

W.W.Norton & Co. (December 2010)


Fun with PhysicsNew York Daily News

Physics and Technology for Future Presidents

An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know — Text Book

Richard A. Muller

Physics and Technology for Future Presidents contains the essential physics that students need in order to understand today's core science and technology issues, and to become the next generation of world leaders. From the physics of energy to climate change, and from spy technology to quantum computers, this is the only textbook to focus on the modern physics affecting the decisions of political leaders and CEOs and, consequently, the lives of every citizen. How practical are alternative energy sources? Can satellites really read license plates from space? What is the quantum physics behind iPods and supermarket scanners? And how much should we fear a terrorist nuke? This lively book empowers students possessing any level of scientific background with the tools they need to make informed decisions and to argue their views persuasively with anyone — expert or otherwise.

Based on Richard Muller's renowned course at Berkeley, the book explores critical physics topics: energy and power, atoms and heat, gravity and space, nuclei and radioactivity, chain reactions and atomic bombs, electricity and magnetism, waves, light, invisible light, climate change, quantum physics, and relativity. Muller engages readers through many intriguing examples, helpful facts to remember, a fun-to-read text, and an emphasis on real-world problems rather than mathematical computation. He includes chapter summaries, essay and discussion questions, Internet research topics, and handy tips for instructors to make the classroom experience more rewarding.

Accessible and entertaining, Physics and Technology for Future Presidents gives students the scientific fluency they need to become well-rounded leaders in a world driven by science and technology.

Princeton University Press (April 12, 2010)

Physics for Future Presidents

The Science Behind the Headlines

Richard A. Muller

“A triumph.”—Steve Weinberg, Boston Globe

This is “must-have” information for all presidents — and citizens — of the twenty-first century: Is Iran’s nascent nuclear capability a genuine threat to the West? Are biochemical weapons likely to be developed by terrorists? Are there viable alternatives to fossil fuels that should be nurtured and supported by the government? Should nuclear power be encouraged? Can global warming be stopped? 73 figures and illustrations.

W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 21, 2009)
W. W. Norton & Company (August 17, 2008)

The Three Big Bangs

Comet Crashes, Exploding Stars, And The Creation Of The Universe

Philip M. Dauber and Richard A. Muller

Scientists believe that we would not be here if it were not for three great cataclysms in the early history of the universe. This book explores the connection between these events — the "Big Bang" that spawned an entire universe; the explosion of a supernova which seeded the solar system with elements; and the crash of a comet or asteroid that caused the demise of the dinosaurs, clearing the way for the evolution of mammals.

Mandarin (December 1990)


Richard tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Climate Change

The Science Behind the Headlines


NACW Keynote

Conversation with Bill Shireman and Richard Muller

Skeptic No Longer Doubts Human Role in Global Warming | PBS

Climate One