Verso University is a year-round offering of classes, workshops, and lectures designed for lifelong learning.

We kick off the spring semester of Verso University with a launch event for the ages, courtesy of longtime Westporter and scientist Martin Yellin.


For thousands of years, we have looked up at the sky and asked endless questions without many answers. “How big is the universe? How did the universe begin and how will it end? And what was there before the universe began?” Many more questions than answers. “How are stars made? How did life begin? What does this all mean?”

It’s only been in the last 50 years that we have begun to answer these questions and many more. It is technology that has opened the door. Space telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope are opening new vistas with stunning images of space through time.

This presentation is an overview of the fascinating and sometimes unexpected discoveries we’ve made, and how, from absolutely nothing, we’ve begun to understand where we are and how we got here.

Fear not! This is not a post-graduate presentation in astrophysics. (There’s only one equation, and it’s once you should already know!) We hope this presentation broadens your view of who we are, where we fit in the cosmos and our role in living productively on what Carl Sagan has called the “blue marble” in the blackness of space.


Marty Yellin received a bachelor's and master's degree in electrical engineering from CCNY. In 1965 he joined Perkin-Elmer in Wilton, Connecticut, which helped support his doctorate in biomedical engineering at NYU, applying engineering solutions to medical issues. At Perkin Elmer, Marty became involved with a top secret program to design and build the largest spy satellite ever to be flown in space. In his last 10 years at Perkin Elmer, he helped design and manage the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been the most productive space instrument ever built. After retirement in 1998, Marty resumed taking courses at NYU in the fields of genetics and cell biology. Since the launch of the Webb Telescope, he has closely followed the amazing science it has, and will discover, especially in establishing if life exists on the exoplanets we are discovering.

Verso University programs are made possible by the generous support
of the Nancy J. Beard Lifelong Learning and Education Fund.