Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Franco Pacini, 1939 - 2012

In preparation for my trip to the Quantitative Laws of Genome Evolution workshop in Como, Italy next month, I was reflecting on my last trip to Italy five years ago.  During that trip, I stayed near Greve, but the highlight of my trip was my visit with Dr. Franco Pacini and his family in Florence.  I recently learned that Dr. Pacini passed away last year.

In homage to this incredible man, I mention two stories.  The first is documented in this blog post, when Franco gave me and my family a private tour of Galileo's home.  It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, for someone who wrote a 3rd-grade report on the famous astronomer.  My second story about Franco took place in my childhood home in Vermont, when I was a senior in high school.  I recall that my father came home from work one day and informed my mother and me that we would be watching this specific episode of Nova on PBS, because his friend Franco was a speaker on the program.  What an incredible surprise; not only did my father have a friend in Italy who was an astrophysicist, but he was on NOVA, the PBS show that we watched almost every week, and he was talking about science to the general public!  He was an incredible role model for a burgeoning scientist such as myself.

Rest in peace, Franco, and thank you for your contributions to science and the pursuit of knowledge.


  1. In a parallel mode, are you aware of a reminiscence in American Scientist about Paul Dirac's visiting Mauna Loa and spending an evening reading children's books to the 10 y.o daughter of his host, who wrote the article? It appeared within the last two years. Great minds perceive alike.

  2. I was once fortunate to be a dinner guest at a gathering of six at which Franco and his wife were the guests of honor. I was saddened to read of his passing which he intimated to me he sadly feared was approaching.