Viva Verne!

felix_nadar_1820-1910_portraits_jules_verneJules Verne (8 febbraio 1828 – 24 Marzo 1905) – 190 anni fa, oggi, nasceva Jules Verne. Un “genio visionario” (secondo la frettolosa definizione giornalistica). Per come la vedo io, un uomo che traeva conseguenze logiche dalle premesse di cui disponeva, scegliendo con cura le premesse, e verificandole. Il senso della fantascienza, che è “fantasma” della scienza, in quanto sua proiezione, ma realistica, verosimile. Parziale, certamente (in Dalla Terra alla Luna viene sparato un proiettile da terra, quindi con accelerazione decrescente, mentre un razzo sfugge alla gravità solo mediante una accelerazione costante per un po’ di tempo), ma si tratta pur sempre di letteratura “di anticipazione”. Una figlia minore della filosofia.

P.K. Dick descrisse anzitempo la rete cellulare (–> qui): gli si potrebbe contestare di aver previsto il TACS ma non il GSM. Ma che senso avrebbe? Isaac Asimov, di tutte le sue grandi previsioni ed invenzioni, ne diede una molto sbagliata, non prevedendo la miniaturizzazione dei componenti elettronici. Se ne potrebbe fare una canzonatura. Ma da che pulpito la si potrebbe lanciare? E poi perché?

Sarebbe un esercizio da social network, per farsi belli cospargendosi del senno di poi, come un profumo dozzinale. Qualcosa in cui oggi in molti si esercitano, per tentare di trascinare i grandi del passato al proprio umano, troppo umano, livello. Quindi oggi nasceva Jules Vernes, di cui almeno 5 idee (non “fantasie”) divennero realtà (quali, leggetelo su Repubblica). E vissero ben oltre la breve durata della sua vita.

Un’idea che sopravvive al suo ideatore, e diventa realtà. Il senso dell’eterno, secondo la filosofia. Un regalo della sua figlia minore. Buon compleanno Monsieur Verne, e molte centinaia di questi giorni!

About pictures – The photos published

Aside

Dear reader! As of today 11.9.14 I start using as head pictures my own photos. I’ll use takes made during my holidays and trips. Most of them are just details of bigger pictures: no faces or recognizable personal data should be displayed, this is my commitment.

Since I use my own pics, any copyright is reserved on each take, and on all takes taken together.

Should anyone note any protected property, please let me know, but I trust it will not happen.

Live long and prosper.

“L’uomo contemporaneo è schiacciato sul presente”

“L’uomo contemporaneo è schiacciato sul presente. E rifiuta di conoscere il passato. Da tremila anni ogni generazione modifica o cerca di modificare le idee portanti e i valori della generazione precedente. Li modifica, ma li conosce: solo così è in grado di programmare il futuro. Poi ci sono momenti rivoluzionari in cui i valori vengono cambiati radicalmente, non solo aggiornati, ma sempre nella conoscenza degli ideali precedenti. Non era mai accaduto che le generazioni non volessero sapere niente dei padri”. Vale la pena di leggere tutta l’intervista a Eugenio Scalfari (su repubblica.it).

The Ozone hole is shrinking!

The Ozone hole is really shrinking!  In times of daily bad news on almost everything it is definitely a piece of real GOOD NEWS!

Some history: in february 2013 the European Space Agency released a report that was commented positively by scientific blogs as –>Livescience.com: observations from late 2012 were showing a progressive shrinking of the ozone hole, as a result of the chlorine gas restrictions established by the Montreal protocol in 1987. However, later that year, some NASA experts seemed to hold differently. They argued that, though the “hole” was in fact shrinking, there was no real evidence that (1) this was due ti the CFC reduction and (2) the ozone layer was not simply “redistributing itself” this partially covering the hole (–> here). It is not easy to quickly grasp the reason of such opinion from the official NASA ozone watch website (–>here), and I leave to better meteorologists than me to explain it. In any case, the rejoice was postponed…

Now, on July 1st the United Nation Environment Programme released a report that clearly and most officially states that the depletion of the Ozone layer has stopped, and full recovery will occur by 2050 or so (official doc. –>here, and UNEP website –> here)! As I’m not a fan of the conspiracy theory, “I want to believe” that finally some good news has come out and, you know, I’m so glad it has nothing to do with religious beliefs, conflicting food-related taboos or exoteric stuff. Just plain, good, old-fashioned, galilean SCIENCE!.

The piece of news was re-bounced today by Italian newspapers (see –> here). I truly hope it will spread at least as quickly as the news about financial disasters. (you may say/ I’m a dreamer…)

What SciFi tells us, again and again.

I propose you this reflection, published in November 2012 -an Eon ago, if you want- on the “Indice dei Libri del mese” (an important literary review published in Italy) by Edoardo Villata -“La guerra di Star Trek“.

It draws an (easy?) parallel between a Star Trek Episode (the author does not quote but it refers to “A Taste of Armageddon” by Robert Hamner e Gene L. Coon, 1967) and the casualties produced by the economic crisis we’re still crawling in.

And, among the casualties, the works of art and the elements of culture that disappear because of the budget cuts. Or by the choices of budget cuts done with a warfare mindset.

Now, 1967 Star Trek was good Science Fiction, of course was no economic science. However, it included a quality that lacks to so many future-tellers of today: common sense, memory, in a word, humanity.

That’s why Science Fiction told about “future”, while Standard & Poors publications talk about “outlook”. Imagining might be very scary, if you take imagination seriously.

Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon (from “The Guardian”)

Alan Turing, convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting a sexual relationship with a man, has been granted a posthumous royal pardon 59 years after his death.

The famous mathematician was the person who had broken the Enigma Code (giving a fundamental advantage to the Allies over the Axis Powers during World War II) and had set the basis for modern computers by imagining a machine (–> the Turing Machine) that could verify -on a case by case basis- if a mathematical relation (i.e. 1+1=3) is true or false. He had achieved such results also in H.M.’s service, while directing the Bletchley Park research group during the war.

Despite these achievements, and their importance, a court established under law could not but convict him for his homosexuality, that was a crime in UK until 1967. (read the article from The Guardian –> here)

I still find amazing (and shocking) how absurd can be the result of applying legal categories to strictly personal behaviors. In this case, we have a world class hero induced to suicide by the very legal system that he contributed to defend. Luckily for the whole Western world, Mr Turing was tried after the war and not before: otherwise, the war could have had a different end, computers could have been invented somewhere else and, maybe, the Nazi Weltanschauung could have prevailed.

 

The Actor’s hands

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. Can we counter-argument to the Swan of the Avon? definitely not. Therefore, let’s learn from the good players how to make our hour upon the stage.
Have a look at the theatrical gestures of most-lamented Italian actor Vittorio Gassman (photos recently found, and published by “La Repubblica). How many marketeers could claim to be more expressive and effective, without saying a word? How many lawyers would give five years of life to become capable of convincing, influencing, communicating their cases without depending on their speech only?