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December 14th, 2012

Marco Polo and Christmas plans

On Sunday I fly to Paris for a two day workshop at the CNES (French National Space Agency) headquarters; this is in support of Marco Polo, a proposed mission to a dark asteroid, so I'll be talking about dark meteorites. Just because an asteroid absorbs 90% + of the light hitting it does not necessarily mean it is a carbonaceous chondrite, and for that matter there are many different meteorites with the name carbonaceous chondrite that are chemically and physically wildly different. And I will only be talking about common types, as I have left off ureilites altogether... hmm, maybe I have time to add them to my talk?

I return to Rome on Wednesday. (One of the side benefits of this trip is that it should push me over the magic 100,000 mile mark on on airline Frequent Flier Miles. In fact I have already flown way more than that, but the trip to Japan on FFMs doesn't count, and the flight to Australia only counts half a mile per mile because I bought the el cheapo ticket on an affiliated airline.)

After I get back, I am here for the rest of the year. Christmas will be quiet, with a few members of the community aound; in years past, and I hope this year too, one of the Italians has his brother over for the day and we all pitch in to make a nice dinner. We don't do presents; I miss the fun of choosing things for other people, but other than that I'm happy not to have more stuff to find a place for.

The last two days of the year, the Taize group (a multi-demoninational monastery in France famous for their music) will be holding their youth day in Rome, and I've been asked to give a couple of talks about science. The venue is St. Ignatius Church, the one with the fake dome (and an amazing bit of trompe d'oeil) whose roof was turned into an observatory in the mid 19th century observatory, where Fr. Secchi saw canali on Mars and classified stellar spectra. I won't need a powerpoint show, the church is one!

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