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From Lisbon February 3, 2008

Posted by dorigo in personal, travel.

I am writing this from a hotel lobby in Lisbon, where I am spending a few days of vacation with my family. I left my laptop in Venice to avoid being obsessed by the web, but then tonight I am allowing myself a half hour of blogging… This serves also as an excuse for being unable to answer comments. I will be back to work on Thursday afternoon.

Lisbon is very nice. I had been warned, true. I like the relaxed feel of the city, the prices -light on your wallet- and the many attractions, especially monuments and museums. Today was the time for a visit to the Oceanarium, the second largest aquarium in the world. An awesome structure over the Tago, with a 5000 cubic meter pool full of fish big and small. I will have a few pictures to upload when I am back…

Only one additional comment. On the bright side. I cheer at the new appointment of Maiani as a president of CNR. As readers here know, his nomination had found opposition from center-right forces, who reached the high point of questioning him on a scientific basis. The arrogance of these little men is really pitiful!



1. goffredo - February 4, 2008

Of course the idiots against Maiani are morons and little men/women, but they are so not because they are on the center-right. Those that are center-right are not all idiots, morons or little. Those that are on the left are not all smart or tall (as opposed to little). Probabilities then? Certainly!

2. Amara - February 6, 2008

This is really good news about Maiani. I wonder if he is big enough against the little men/women to be about to do anything about the scientific funding situation? As a recent concrete example, Italy has no research at Antarctica now.

3. dorigo - February 6, 2008

I agree Jeff, but you should not fail to note that the center-right is more likely to shrug shoulders at a star-studded scientific career. Remember, they had placed Pistella as head of CNR: a man of really dubious scientific quality (three refereed papers in all his life).

Amara, too bad… I hear that the weather is very unforgiving there 😉


4. chimpanzee - February 7, 2008

After the meeting was over I had a chance to play a little on a wonderful baby grand Steinway & Sons piano.

What song did you play on the Steinway? Can you play like this:

Evgeny Kissin plays Johann Strauss – Fledermaus op.56

I recently discovered music videos (especially classical piano) on Youtube & am totally addicted.

I noticed in your bio your musical background. Your portfolio has a strong A+B package (like Kea).

A. Information (“Science”)

B. Entertainment (“Art”)
piano, amateur astronomy, chess, family-life

The “Art & Science” paradigm has universal appeal & is key for Public Outreach. The recent USA Fiscal 2008 funding crisis is the result of a FLAWED narrow-minded view: only A)

“Facts Tell [ Science ], Stories Sell [ Entertainment ]”
— marketing 101: pots & pans, auto-racing, Science

G. Lisi’s recent media publicity was criticized (by physics bloggers) for his B) component (surfing, hang-gliding, etc), but in fact THAT’S exactly what you want: Human Interest. If you “Capture the Imagination” of the Public (vs selling esoteric Science), then you can win them over & it will result in public funding.

Heat is a Transferable Skill

I meant to post this during that “disruption” late Aug/2007 (false accusation of sexism), Re: Lisa Randall/CERN talk. She delivered an A+B “performance” (much like a pianist/musician), where her aesthetic presentation (wardrobe, hair) is done for public appeal. Check her old Harvard website, where she dresses like a tomboy (her famous turquoise t-shirt). You were acting like a music critic, describing her A+B “performance”: looks & lecture. Nothing wrong with that.

There is a “jewel in the test tube” pianist Valentina Lisitsa.


“But unlike most music prodigies, Valentina did not think about a career as a concert pianist. She had a different dream – to become a professional chess player! …Valentina attributes her effortless technique to hours of mindless repetition of the most difficult passages while simultaneously devouring a books that interested her, which she kept open on her music stand.”

She has a lot of technique/power like the famous Sviatoslav Richter. Add looks & her chess prowess, she has an interesting A+B package.

She has Youtube & Myspace account where she posts videos of her piano performances:


I.e., she’s understands the value of Technology (“Content/Distribution”). She will respond to your Youtube comments.

You should invite her to do a guest post (Chess, Music), it would be a breakthrough “crossover” for a Physics blog. Her email is v a l e n t i n a @ valentinalisitsa.com

Valentina Lisitsa plays Chopin Etude Op. 25 No. 12

“Your outstanding playing gets me every time…I’m not even that into classic music [ Physics ] but when you’re invovled in it [ A+B package, beauty & brains ], you add a whole different flavor to it [ “Captured my Imagination” ], that forces me to LOVE this music [ Physics” ].”
— i4ill

This comment illustrates my point above, A+B can sell Classical or Physics (both are niche-markets which are dying in the face of pop-culture) to the masses.

“She’s hot, she can play that good, and she’s very smart.”
— vscanzi

“I am crying out of some longing this angel of fire!!!!”
— Suichimatsumoto

The above comments mirror Tommaso’s comment about L. Randall. The scientific term is “Convergent Evolution”, 2 different ecological niches..same cause/effect.

“Valentina is up there, plays Chopin at least as good as Rubinstein, definitely better than Horowitz and Ashkenazi. Those slender arms definitely have power! ”
— davkakach

Q (TheCrazyHairPianist): Er… How does someone that hot play that good?
A (EmdrGreg): Sometimes heat is a transferable skill.

“Heat is a transferable skill”..haha, that’s funny! That “disruption” last Aug/2007 (false accusation of sexism) is really another manifestation of Physical Law… Heat Transfer:

“Heat transfer always occurs from a hot body to a cold one, a result of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics”

One needs to “frame” any description of female-scientists in the context of a package, to avoid conflict with PC types:

Sharon Stone was “very cool and sweet and a true triple threat –beauty, brains and balls [ brawn ].”

L. Randall is a rock-climber (2 major falls, injury), & Kea is a skier/mountaineer (20 meter fall in Switzerland, 8 day survival ordeal in NZ). Thats balls.

5. dorigo - February 7, 2008

Hi Bob,

your comment above is quite interesting… I think I am going to quote from it in a post tonight. With your permission, of course.


6. chimpanzee - February 8, 2008


It’s not my quote, I got it from


Other interesting quotes from above:

“She is still very much the drop-dead beauty — those of us who have seen her ** all comment on this — one of that rare breed of woman (at least in southern California) who actually knows how to age with style and sex appeal and sparing use of botox and plastic surgery (there are some pretty freaky people walking around these neighborhoods), who doesn’t try to look twenty or compete with the twenty year olds because she knows that they can’t compete with her. This strikes me as a good way to be.”

“SS has always seemed to me to be a woman who has used what she has [ Substance ] without being used by it [ tempted by artificial means to enhance Appearance, i.e. plastic surgery ]. To me, that’s sexy in and of itself.”

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