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Monday, July 1, 2013

Italian astrophysicist Margherita Hack dies at 91

In the morning melee after my usual visit to Social networking sites, my blog, Cric sites and more……… I could easily have missed out this article featuring this old lady……..

There is so much of information overflow making prioritization difficult… cine stars, cricketers, fashion world, promos, politicians all corner the newsheadlines – leaving little to the rest… most of us would have read of Salman starting another website….. not on his cinemas but on the court cases. It was back in 2002 that actor Salman Khan became the accused in a hit and run case.  There are some more including black buck too. Eleven years later, on Monday, a Mumbai court announced that Khan will be charged with “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”. The decision has come as blow to the actor. If proven guilty, Khan could be sentenced to as long as ten years of imprisonment.  The actor has launched a website which will make public all the information regarding this case.

Away, this is about the old lady – born in Florence in  June 1922, known too well in her own Italy and in Europe, specially known for her continual criticism of the Catholic Church and of its hierarchy and institutions. She was a vegetarian and has written a book explaining this choice entitled Perché Sono Vegetariana ("Why I Am A Vegetarian"). Hack died in Trieste on 29 June 2013 at the age of 91, after being hospitalized for a week for heart problems. She had refused to have heart surgery. Still nothing impressive enough, one might wonder……

Margherita Hack, was  an astrophysicist who explained her research on the stars in plain language for the public and  championed civil rights in her native Italy. She  had headed an astronomical observatory. Astrophysicist Margherita Hack,  was a popular science writer, public intellectual and the first woman to lead an astronomical observatory in Italy. Known as the “lady of the stars”, Hack’s research contributed to the spectral classification of many groups of stars, and the asteroid 8558 Hack is named after her.

She introduced astrophysics to a broad Italian audience, from university textbooks to colourful tomes of astronomy for children, and was astronomy chair at the University of Trieste and director of the Trieste Astronomical Observatory from 1964 to 1987, the first woman to hold the position. Hack was one of Italy’s most visible scientists over her career and remained a grey-haired media presence into her 90s, often consulted for her assessment of the issues of the day from a wooden rocking chair in her book-lined Trieste home. In December 2012 she told a reporter she had decided not to have a heart operation that could prolong her life, wryly commenting that she might as well save the Italian public health service the money, and saying she preferred to stay at home with her books and her husband of seven decades, Aldo De Rosa.

One of her many books, “Why I am Vegetarian”, published at the age of 89, outlined Hack’s belief that there was no difference between human and animal pain and that eating meat damaged the environment, sparking debate in a country with a proud tradition of meatballs, beef pasta dishes and cured hams.

Certainly a news to read of a worthy person
With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

30th June 2013.

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