Piero Angela, the prince of disseminators and the boomer who did not know how to take selfies …

This is not a classic crocodile. Because to hastily define what Piero Angela was is an impracticable task. So to pay homage to the most loved science communicator, the best solution is to rely on the memories of those who lived it. And who better than Giulia Bignami, daughter of the astrophysicist Giovanni Bignami, who was also at home in Superquark (Angela’s creature). And so, among the non – special selfies, and the hilarious anecdotes, what the prince of disclosure has left us also flows before our eyes …

Qhis is not a crocodile, because I hate journalistic crocodiles, I saw the real ones in the Adelaide River in Australia eating each other and it was enough for me. This is not even a reliable memory, because it is a memory of mine and like all memories it is shaken by time and recomposed by memory every time it is remembered.

These are four thoughts. The first thought for everyone (at least for my generation of millennials) when it comes to Piero Angela is definitely Superquarkthe symbolic program of scientific popularization in Italy, with Paco Lanciano and his physics experiments, with Carlo Cannella and his cooking experiments, with Danilo Mainardi and his stories about animals, but for me when it comes to Piero Angela the first thought is a ballet. I was little, I must have been eight, and my dad, the astrophysicist Giovanni Bignamiparticipated together in astrophysics Margherita Hack to the program Journey into the Cosmos. To Piero Angela’s question about why we only ever see the same face of the Moon, Margherita’s response was initially discursive (including the confession that fifty years earlier when she was asked the same question during a competition she could not answer), but it evolved rapidly. in a practical demonstration in which my father’s intervention was required in the role of the Earth while Margaret would play the part of the Moon. In front of a somewhat perplexed Piero Angela and a very amused audience, this demonstrative circle began at the end of which Margherita was a little out of breath, but Piero Angela admitted that there could not have been a better method to intuitively explain the reciprocal motions of rotation and revolution of the earth with its natural satellite.

THEThe second thought is my cats, Camilla and Grigino, who had learned to recognize their father’s voice when he left the television during what had become his column in SuperQuark: Stardust. So, my cats too have learned a lot about constellations, space debris, parallel universes and an apple that fell on my father’s head in direct representation of the famous Newton’s apple. In short, all those beautiful things about astrophysics that everyone likes, but for which I developed a severe form of allergy since childhood.

The third thought is a selfie that has never been a selfie, because both my father and Piero Angela were too boomers to be able to take a selfie. My father telephoned me happy after receiving the news that he was going to collaborate for a new season of Superquark, he added that he would go to meet Piero to have a chat and then I told him: “I recommend dad, take a selfie together and then send it to me!” I should have understood that my request had little hope of being granted when the hesitant response I received was: “Ok … but how do you take a selfie?” I spent the next fifteen minutes while I was in the lab completing the last and risky experiments needed for my Ph.D. thesis in chemistry, explaining how to turn the camera and take a picture by simply reaching out.

So it was that put together, the most popular Italian science communicator and the greatest international satellite expert, obviously they didn’t send me a selfie, but something much more beautiful: during the recordings they were taken a photo in which together they were holding a sheet of paper with a red marker writing “CIAO GIULIA!” followed by a little heart. It’s the cutest non-selfie I’ve ever received.

The fourth thought is the memory of the astonishment in my father’s eyes when, after hearing Piero play the piano, he told me that he was an absolutely incredible man.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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