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January 11th, 2010

Home again, home again

It's chilly and rainy in Rome, though not nearly as cold as it was in Boston or even London. My weather station tells me it is 7 C outside, with 91% humidity.

I am still not used to our new quarters. Certainly I like it here; it's far more comfortable than living in a drafty 16th century castle, no matter how romantic that sounds. (Heat and running water are really nice ideas. Maybe we have made progress since then.) 

Thanks to the bad weather in London, my flight to Padua was canceled on Wednesday and again on Thursday, and overbooked on Friday. So I skipped the Galileo meeting and the closing of the IYA and flew back home to Rome instead.

I was scheduled to give the final talk of the Padua meeting on the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Galilean moons, and my topic (assigned to me by the organizers) was "Other Worlds, Other Civilizations." I took that to mean they were looking for a discussion of how Galileo's discovery of those moons opened up our understanding of the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere, and I ended with speculations about life inside those moons... and other such moons around other such gas giant planets. 

George Coyne gave my talk for me -- thanks to email I could send him the Powerpoint, and in the airport lounge at Gatwick I quickly dashed off some words to fit the pictures. He wrote back: "Despite my best efforts your paper went well, delivered with a Baltimore accent. At least one person liked it - me. Torrance Johnson, Carl Pilcher and many others whom you used to call friends were hooting and howling." So I guess it was a success.

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