Italy’ s Margherita Hack was not only a highly-respected astrophysicist but a popular science writer, public intellectual and civil rights activist.
She died at the weekend at the age of 91.
Known as the ‘lady of the stars’, her research contributed to the spectral classification of many stars and the asteroid 8558 Hack is named after her.
She led the observatory at Trieste from 1964 to 1987 – the first woman to hold the position.
One of her many gifts was the ability to explain the most complicated of concepts in such a way that most people could understand them.
She said: “I’m an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in God, I do not believe in the afterlife. I believe that the soul is our brain. It’s impossible to scientifically prove either that God exists, or that God does not exist. The idea of God does not convince me. I prefer to believe that there is matter and that matter has the properties we observe.”
When euronews’ Claudio Rocco spoke to her two years ago, he asked if she could define time.
She replied: “I think you can understand time just by the fact that everything, everything changes. Everything ages. You’re born, you die. The living beings as the objects if they are new, then they become old. Even the stones, even in our Earth, aged four and a half billion years, has changed enormously. So we can define time only thanks to the fact that everything changes. “
Hack used to say: “When I pass away, if I meet God, I will tell him I was wrong.”