My two (2) cents on viruses

The word virus comes from the Latin term for poison. I mean, that’s not a good start. Most people don’t believe that viruses are a life form. In biology, living things are divided into 5 kingdoms: bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, animals. Viruses are not included because they lack a fundamental characteristic of living beings: the ability to reproduce by themselves. Put a virus on a table and don’t let it get in contact with anyone and it stays there without moving or changing. But in contact with the right cell, there it “animates”, reproduces and spreads. Then it can be trouble. But the luck lies in the fact that viruses are extremely specialized: a given virus only attacks certain types of cells of certain living beings. And it can also be useful to human beings…

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I still believe in Santa

IMG_7893I used to feel Christmas as a kid a lot. I’m not talking about the happiness of receiving gifts and phrases like “we’re all nicer to each other and merrier today”. Even then I felt that there was something special, something that I still like today. My son now keeps saying that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and that we put the presents under the tree. He’s “exposed” us a while ago, that’s normal. But my wife insists on the Santa story, she wants to keep some magic in him. And I agree, also because the “magic” of Christmas has always existed and despite the consumerism and the stereotypes, it continues to exist.

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My vintage-specs Stratocaster after 3 years

IMG_4859Fender has just released their new vintage-specific, made in Mexico, affordable Stratocasters, Telecasters, Mustangs and basses. Like the Classic Series they replace, they are made nearly like they used to do in the old days in California, namely the 1950s, the 60s, and the 70s. There are a plethora of videos on YouTube about this new MIM series and one of the most prominent stars is the Surf Green 50s – just like the one I own. After three years of playing it and fiddling with it a little bit, I came to understand and love my Classic 50s Strat. I am confident it is not a lesser guitar than the new Vintera and the changes that have been made are surely easily implemented on my specimen, too. Actually, the only think that really bothers me is my Strat not staying in tune after bendings. But I’m working on it…

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Inertial frames of reference

inertialI have very fond memories about my high school maths and physics teacher. He is the one responsible for my love for science and the first who tried to teach me how to use my own brain and think freely.

He stressed the subject of inertial frame of reference, a kind of “independent observation point”, quite a lot. Think of when your sitting in a train and the train next to you moves: you have the impression that the train you’re on is moving. From the inertial frame of reference of the guy on the platform, it is clear which train is moving. My high school teacher loved to bring up Galileo’s struggle to convince his contemporaries that the Earth was revolving around the Sun, not the opposite, as most believed at those times.
My physics teacher told us that they were actually both right, both points of view had their own reasons based on physics if you observed them from the correct inertial frame of reference.

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Big changes in life

lifechangesThe greatest stresses a human being is exposed to during life are thought to be: the loss of a loved one, marriage and divorce, a new job or being fired, a relocation, and the birth of a child. We all have to confront ourselves with most of them sooner or later, there is no way to avoid it, that’s life. I know someone who has never changed address since he was born (when he got married he moved to another floor in the same building); he divorced eventually but he kept living in the same flat. He had lost his father too early and had to get himself a job when he was very young. Maybe he never changed home and ended up with no children to spare himself some stress. Continue reading  

Yeah I’m not shy, just introvert!

TED talks are illuminating. I appreciate most of them and unfortunately it is impossible to follow all of them. But I was drawn by the title “The power of introverts” by Susan Cain. She clarified the concept for me: there is a difference between being shy and being introvert. I already new that both are not the problem our society wants them to be. My favorite Italian pediatrician, a follower of Winnicot’s theories and a radicalist as the likes of Ivan Illich and William Godwin, makes a strong point about it: an introvert or shy kid will most certainly become a gentle person; the opposite is not that obvious.

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Being who we really are

Not many of us are lucky enough to be who they really artumblr_oav00tykwc1vpv2xso1_400e. The luckiest ones at least “know” who they really are even if they actually aren’t that. I’ve always admired people who made a life out of their passions. It takes a lot to achieve it, unless your passion is working for a bank or being a government employee: you study and work in order to get a job and you’re set. But what if you want to be, say, a painter? The entire world will tell you not to do it, you will be starving, you need at least a plan B. But the ones who keep on and succeed in doing this are the ones who did not listen… Continue reading  

Death bed

05_Passaggio KTMany are aware that dinosaurs disappeared nearly 66 million years ago, after a major climate change that made their environments inhospitable. Most people know about the dinosaurs disappearance, but few know that what happened at the end of the Mesozoic era was actually a mass extinction. Well, maybe even fewer people know that some clues of what happened in that period have been first found in central Italy, close to Saint Francis’ hometown, near a small city in the Apennines called Gubbio. The story is about father and son, Louis Alvarez, a Nobel prize physicist, and Walter Alvarez, a renown American geologist at Berkeley with a love for Italy.

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The geology of Rome’s sampietrini

What’s so special about the “sampietrini”, those little square bricks typical of Rome’s old roads? The sampietrini have been used since the times of pope Sixtus V in the late 1500s but the name was invented later in 1725 after the new paving project of St. Peter’s square. “Hard as a sampietrino” is a common expression in Rome. Sampietrini are made of a hard and heavy volcanic rock. It is very interesting to a geologist: at first sight, you might confuse it with basalt; well, maybe a special kind of basalt. Actually, it is not correct to call it basalt. It is a rather rare rock around the world, but not in the Mediterranean area. But everything would be clearer if we knew more about the basalts themselves…

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Thanksgiving my ….?

thxThis year I had the chance to celebrate the Thanksgiving with some American friends of mine. I am completely Italian and I still have many doubts about celebrating Halloween in our country or having a Black Friday here. But I am the same one who didn’t believe McDonald’s had a chance in the country of pizza and I am still dubious about any business for Starbucks here. But I was proved wrong, so I gladly enjoyed the thanksgiving dinner in Rome with some dear American friends.

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