NC State Physicist Explores Mysteries Of The Universe

Jul 29, 2013

Stephen Reynolds is an astrophysicist at North Carolina State University.

In the age of the Internet, it sometimes seems as though no questions remain unanswered. But for Stephen Reynolds, the mystery is only beginning.

He's an astrophysicist at North Carolina State University, and he spends a lot of time ferreting out the facts about supernova.

"Supernovae are exploding stars," he told host Frank Stasio on The State of Things. "That's always a cool thing. Most stars don't do this, but those that do make a critical contribution..."

He went on to explain that most of the elements found in our universe are created and spread in these exploding stars. 

Reynolds told Stasio about his first experiences with science and math, which developed as a kid. 

"My father was an electrical engineer and I had always done well in math," he said.

Still, Reynolds spent a portion of his life playing music professionally. But he ultimately decided to pursue a career in science. 

When he went to college and began looking into a specialty, physics stuck out. 

"I looked at various options and it seemed that they all required that you begin with physics." 

Astrophysics, he realized, utilized all aspects of physics in general, so he set his course for the stars. 

He ended up the first astrophysicist at NC State in the 1980s, though it almost didn't happen. 

"I looked them up and realized that they didn't have any astronomy and wrote them off," he said.  

But a friend told him the university was trying to expand and that he should apply. So he did. He's been here ever since.