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From the President

On 11 February, Jesuit father George Coyne, an internationally renowned astronomer, died at the age of 87 in Syracuse in New York State, where he had settled after directing the Vatican Observatory for 28 years. I give news of it with deep sorrow, because George was not only a scientist of great value and a man of exceptional moral stature, capable of defending his thought and principles with indomitable courage and clear determination, but above all because he was a dear friend. George was a member of the ISI Foundation Scientific Committee between 1995 and 2004 and I will never forget the long chats with him about science and ethics, religion and politics; its precious indications on the lines of research that could best characterize the Institute giving it a specific and strong physiognomy; his vision of the future of artificial intelligence. It was he, cultured and grumbling, capable of sarcasm and compassion for everything and everyone; he, the Jesuit who with a path of rare intellectual lucidity had managed to find an articulated dynamic balance between his totalizing faith and his practice as a scientist of superb quality; he, the man who was able to even confront a Pontiff to defend the dignity and freedom of man, of persons, in pursuing their thirst to know, who gave me those inalienable ethical principles that I have always tried to transfer to ISI. His disappearance is a terrible loss for the Church, for science, for humanity. We will miss him, yet his teaching will always be with us. Personally, I will miss the friend who, with disarming simplicity, knew, going from one thing to another with absolute simplicity, to talk about the cosmos and to sing difficult Schubert's lieder with perfect tones, to discuss general relativity as freely and competently as fine wines.

His story within a Church that he loved much more than himself but that was not always his friend, is told with affection by Piero Bianucci in the obituary dedicated to him on Tutto Scienze; I am attaching it so that you all can know how good a man George was and remember him as one of us.