Friday, May 21, 2010

Notes from a lecture...

Alex Fillipenko...the man with the "stellar" smile...I am proud to say I was in his midst recently (sitting just a few feet away in fact) with a notebook-totting kiddo. We've been fans eversince we watched The Universe and several other astronomy-themed documentaries featuring the man.

So on Wednesday, we caught him speaking at the final Silicon Valley Lecture Series for the year. Topic: Black Holes!

The lecture was a little long for the kiddo but with notebook in hand, he was quite happy to keep himself busy creating some sort of a puzzle while I listened, frequently goggle-eyed at the amazing slides. From time to time, Dr F would say something that sounded technical to me and I would borrow the notebook to jot down words and terms to google later when we got home. After the lecture, just before getting into the car, I realized the kiddo had answered many of the questions prior to my googling them. Here's what we notes are numbered and in plain text and the kiddo's retyped word for word, including spelling errors, in italics:

1. We can suggest a guest speaker/ topic (for next lecture series)
suggestion: Neil deGrasse Tyson

2. What is a neutron star?
The compressed core of a big star.

3. Will stars around black holes become noodles too?
Yes and first they will orbit.

4. Has anyone tried to create a mini BH (black hole) in a research/ lab environment?
Yes they have in a atom collider.

[The following is a question he wanted to ask Dr F but didn't have time to:]
What if both the negative and postive end enters?
I'm assuming we may get answers here and from conversations with his Dad tonight.

5. Where is the Sombrero Galaxy?
In outer space. [Then, probably added as a cheeky afterthought] Or Outer Mexico.

He of the sidelong glances got a nice long one from his Mom this time LOL.

Yesterday, we discovered that while one could theoretically create a microscopic BH in the large hadron collider, it may not actually have been accomplished yet. Two scientists however, have apparently created a desktop black hole using another method.


  1. Does the kiddo just blow you away Suji??!

  2. Oh yeah! But a few minutes later he'd say something like "warm things contract and cold things expand right?" and I'd come right back down to earth LOL :)


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