“Don’t fear difficult moments.”

That’s a quote from neurologist Rita Levi Montalcini, the oldest living Nobel laureate.  Don’t miss the photograph, which shows the impossibly elegant scientist and politician sipping a glass of bubbly at her 100th birthday party in Rome yesterday. (It probably doesn’t hurt to be Italian.) Do, however, be irked by the pesky “still” in the title of the story:  “Italian scientist, turning 100, still works.”

Appointed “senator for life” in 2001, Levi Montalcini frequents the Italian Senate’s Upper House when not busy with academic commitments. Like the majority of the people I’ve interviewed, she feels more competent now than ever. “At 100, I have a mind that is superior — thanks to experience — than when I was 20,” she told her guests at the party, which was hosted by the European Brain Research Institute.

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