Last week, however, I found encouragement when I went to the local Science Cafe meeting in Kaimuki, a neighborhood on the south side of Honolulu.
(FYI, everyone here calls the greater Honolulu area "Town." I'm still adjusting to the convention. The area where I live feels much more like a town, whereas Honolulu, which is packed with high-rise buildings and taxis and dozens of pedestrians at every intersection, feels like a city.)
The invited speaker at last week's Science Cafe explained what black holes are and how they evolve to gobble stars and spawn new galaxies. He also mentioned something that's happening now, or expected to happen soon: an enormous gas cloud named G2 is cruising toward the black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and when it gets within range of the hole's gravity, the gas is expected to swirl around and send out flashes of light, slowly settling into what is called an accretion disk, which will serve as a halo around the center of what would otherwise be invisible because black holes are, by definition, black.
It was a fascinating talk. Most of it was completely over my head. Thankfully, the cool photos and videos were pretty self-explanatory. And, just as amusing as these was the way the researcher was clearly having so much fun while he worked. He used non-technical language. He made jokes. He promoted his rock album that was recorded in the 1970s. It was a fun evening with a good group of people. I'm already looking forward to next month's Science Cafe event.