Sent: Sunday, 13 December 2009 2:05 a.m.
Subject: This is crazy
Okay, too much coffee, too little sleep, too much aimless fooling with the internets. So Julia and I were talking and then I ran a search for weird email addresses and found this one and, yeah, I know you’re some half-assed history student who thinks it’s a cool handle, but I’m just wasted enough to be unable to resist.
So hi Galileo, how’s it moving? (sorry, sorry, I know that one’s gonna get old real fast, couldn’t resist).
Man, now I don’t know what to say. I mean you’re one of my all-time heroes, dude, you know that? I mean, you totally pissed off the establishment, you were all about the science, and you built a frickin telescope, what’s not to like?
I wish I could really talk to you, let you know what happened since your time. You got a shitty deal - years of battling the church about geocentrism, and those cardinals did a real number on you at the second trial, with the bogus heresy conviction. The church still yammers on about how well you were treated – just “house arrest” in a comfortable villa, totally lenient. Yeah, tell that to Aung San Su thingy. Suu Kyi, google says, huh.
Anyway, in the end they made you stop talking about Copernicus and your experiments, stop spreading the word, made you recant. That had to hurt – not sure that I could have done it, probably would’ve ended up a crispy critter on an Inquisition bonfire like poor old Bruno, with my mouth.
So yeah, hats off to you, man, and you should know that we’re down with heliocentrism all the way now. You won. The damn pope even apologised in 1992, sorta, centuries too late and hedged around with a truckload of sociological bullshit, but, finally.
Alrighty, enough late night craziness from me. I just, I wanted to say that some of us are still doing what you started. MythBusting, I mean.
So thanks, man.
Sent: Friday, 18 December 2009 22:17 p.m.
Subject: Re: This is crazy
My Dear Signor Savage
I was touched to receive your communication and you will please forgive my imperfetto grasp of the English.
I am imagine your face to read my message! I hope it is a good surprise. Yes, yes, you will be asking how is Galileo Galilei, long gone to dust and to his maker, using the tecnologia moderna? That I cannot tell you just yet, it must be a secret, my friend.
I hope that I may address you as a friend. From your letter to me, it seemed so, but forgive if I presume. My life is I think known to you - although the tales in your libraries have many, how it is said, inexactnesses, and those written by the fanatici religiosi are often frank lies.
Tell me about yourself, Signor Savage. You are the MythBuster? I like how this sounds although I do not quite understand it.
Your friend, Sig. Galileo Galilei
Sent: Sunday, 20 December 2009 1:34 a.m.
Subject: Re: This is crazy
Oookay, so. I’ve been chewing this over for a couple days since your email pinged my inbox and I still figure you’re some college student with an overactive imagination but it’s just too goddam tempting. And what do I care if you post the whole damn email chain on your blog eventually? Hell, I’m already a famous loose cannon and like the man said, all publicity is good publicity, right?
So, Galileo, I’d be honored to be considered your friend. Call me Adam – we’re a little less formal these days.
You want to know something about me? Well, I’m 42 and I live in Los Angeles. Riiiight, you won’t even have heard of LA, or Hollywood (if we’re playing this game). LA’s a big, dirty city on America’s West Coast – you’ve heard of America, right? Anyway. I’m married, now, but I’ve got two boys from a relationship before I met Julia, my wife. You had some kids too, I think, but you weren’t married? Pretty damn modern of you. I think someone wrote a book about your daughter – hang on, I’ll google her – yeah, Sister Maria Celeste. Sounds like you were close, huh? I’m close to my boys, got joint custody of them.
But I digress – sorry, a failing of mine, in fact a lot of people would say I have ADD, that’s Attention Deficit Disorder. But I don’t, I’m just, I just do a lot, you know? I’m interested in stuff, good at multi-tasking.
You were asking about being a MythBuster? That’s me and my friend Jamie, Jamie Hyneman. I know he gets pissed with me being all hyper and chaotic but still, we’re friends. So, MythBusters. It’s this TV show. Umm – you know what TV is? Television. It’s like a…play, but projected on a small screen, not live. Kinda like puppets…no, really not like puppets. People watch it in their homes. I guess for you, our show’d be like doing a demonstration of a scientific experiment with a big bunch of people watching. We reach a few more people than you’d have been able to, although your books were pretty influential.
Right, so the MythBusters show. Each week we take some notion that people believe, or talk about like it’s “common knowledge”, even though there’s often no scientific basis. Then we test it out – we do experiments and usually we “bust” the myth – we show it was false. Sometimes it’s “myth confirmed”, but not so often. I get to build cool stuff and then smash it up or explode it! Well I mean not all the time, but the show’s partly aimed at younger viewers so yeah, I guess we do blow stuff up pretty often.
Damn, this sounds really lame compared to what you accomplished with the astronomy and experiments and books. I know we’re not in your league, but we try. Mostly we want to reach kids, and people generally, and help them understand how science works, the scientific method. Get them interested in the evidence, not just mindlessly believing all the crap that’s out there.
You’d be amazed what people believe, man, even today in the 21st century. You’d think that all the shit you and the others went through would have changed things, but you know, not so much. But me and Jamie, I guess we do what we can.
Anyway, tired now, so off to bed. Nice talking to you again.
Your friend, Adam
Sent: Thursday, 24 December 2009 23:04 p.m.
Subject: Re: This is crazy
My Dear Adam
Thanks to you for telling me about yourself and Sig. Hyneman your fellow MythBuster. I am not sure what is this television you mention, but perhaps it is like a shadow-play, on a screen? Or one of the travelling passion plays that tell improving tales, no? But tales about science, not religion, which is very good.
This “blowing up” of things – it is the explosioni, yes? An excellent way to capture the audience, I imagine. There were times when I wish I had resorted to it myself – the cardinals come to mind.
It is good to work with a friend. Me, I was alone too much, but there were always letters. You mentioned my daughter Virginia - Sr Maria Celeste. Strange to think they are writing books about her, about us. Sometimes it is easier to express oneself on paper than to someone’s face. This email we are using is, I think, the corrispondenza of your times, no?
My daughter had not so many options, born out of wedlock, but she had a true vocation and a sweet nature, despite failing health. She never berated me, not like Vincenzio. But enough of old wounds.
You, I think, have also a vocation, no? To preach the word of science, of observation and experiment against ignorance and superstition. You talk of your failings, and worry that even your friend Sig. Hyneman thinks you are too much, you are troppo. I believe he sees past that, sees that you are merely appassionato.
Do not doubt yourself, Adam, and if you are at times a thorn in the side, well, we are alike in that. I take pride that you call me a MythBuster. Think of me the next time you are blowing something up.
Buon Natale, your friend, Galileo.
Sent: Friday, 25 December 2009 11:55 p.m.
Subject: Merry Christmas
Thanks, man. Buon natale to you too. Whoever you are.
Date: 25 December 2009 11:56:07 AM
Subject: Delivery Notification: Delivery has failed
This report relates to a message you sent with the following header fields:
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 11:56:07 AM
From: Adam Savage <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Merry Christmas
Your message cannot be delivered to the following recipients:
Recipient address: email@example.com
Reason: Remote SMTP server has rejected address
Diagnostic code: smtp;554 5.1.1 <firstname.lastname@example.org>: Recipient address rejected:
undeliverable address: unknown
Adam kicked back in the bean bag and accepted another beer from Jamie. They’d tried out the latest Avatar game (pretty, but too fiddly and ultimately disappointing) and Adam had done some new magic tricks for the boys and their friends. Boxing day was winding down in a haze of turkey sandwiches and tantrums, as the boys’ new toys were stress-tested and found wanting. Hunkering down, he tried to tune out noises from the kitchen, Julia’s usually patient voice sharpening as she umpired another squabble.
“So,” said Adam. “Had some interesting emails lately.”
“Me?” said Jamie, slumping into the recliner. “Nope, just the usual.”
“Jeez Hyneman, keep up. I had some interesting emails, s’what I’m saying.”
“You gonna ask me about them?”
“Figure you’ll tell me anyway.”
“Sure will. From an Italian correspondent. An old dude.”
Jamie grunted. “Seniors clogging up the bandwidth. I blame Gray Power.”
Adam stared contemplatively at the wide-screen TV which was playing a re-run of Rain Man with the sound off. “Qantas never crashed” Adam mouthed along with Dustin Hoffman. True for their jets, unless you counted rapid decompression or falling 650 feet in 20 seconds.
“How’d you do it?” Adam asked.
Jamie flipped the recliner handle, raising the footrest. He stretched out and took another drink. “Been waiting for you to catch up for months, Savage. Set it up for your birthday back in July.”
“You set up the galileo.galilei email address and just, what, waited for me to stumble over it? Fuck, Jamie, that’s pretty minimalist, even for you.”
“Yeah, well, I dropped enough hints. Not my fault if you were oblivious.”
“Right, hints. ’Cause communication’s like, totally your strong point.” Adam smirked and shot Jamie a sideways glance. “What were you doing, beaming thought-waves at me?”
“Nope, not with your thick skull.” Jamie leaned away to avoid the worst of Adam’s punch to his arm. “Ow, knock it off. Anyway, I got Julia to help, before Christmas.”
“Aha – so that’s why she was going on about having seen weird email addresses. Man, you two are thick as thieves.”
“Roped Tory in, too. He had some old letters his grandpa’d sent him at film school, helped me with the Italian.”
“Figures that you had some help even if you used to be the big linguistics hotshot. Social engineering’s more my thing than yours.” Adam snorted and shook his head. “You realise Italian’s probably totally changed since the 1600s. It’d have been, like, Shakespearean Italian then. Or something.”
“Yeah, whatever. That what gave it away? That it wasn’t actually Galileo?”
“You betcha. I was sold on it otherwise.”
Adam settled further into the beanbag and Jamie crossed his feet at the ankle. On the screen, Tom Cruise made frantic gestures, his mouth working silently. Fucking Scientologists.
“Appassionato, huh?” ventured Adam, squinting sidelong at Jamie. Jamie flushed and pulled his beret down a little. Adam grinned. “Thanks, man, it was cool,” he said, nudging Jamie’s arm with his elbow.
“Yeah,” said Jamie. “He was a cool dude.”
They clinked their bottles and drank.