Light years, colliding galaxies, a giant space telescope contact lens...bagels? The Secret Science Club's astrophysics/dance party Wednesday night turned The Bell House in Gowanus into a full-on galactic drunken nerd-off.
"...So when a star ages, it's called stellar evolution, and when a galaxy changes, it's called galaxy evolution...evolution is a big thing, especially in Alabama. I know, here in Brooklyn we can make those jokes."
Way to connect to your audience, space-dude! Astrophysicist Charles Liu. He was full of stuff like that on Wednesday night at The Bell House, a trendy venue tucked away at the end of a block mostly comprised of empty warehouses. Who knew that at the end of that sketchy walk was a world of cosmic cocktails and space witticisms?
By 8:30, the sizable locale was absolutely packed--the spillage of people into the back hall matched the spillage of drinks on surrounding guests. The crowd was enraptured: Black holes! The Hubble Telescope! Active galactic nucleus! It was like third grade for grown-ups. Liu was on his game too, singing songs about how black holes don't suck, relating cosmic jets to the New York Jets, and clearing up the misconception that gravity is like a vacuum cleaner by relating the story of how his wife vacuumed up a scorpion. Here are some fun space facts I learned:
The result of stuff falling into a super-massive black hole creates a system that produces as much energy in one second as the sun does in 10 million years.
The Milky Way is on a 500,000 mile-per-hour crash course with the Andromeda galaxy, 2.2 million light years away. "But don't change your retirement plan just yet", he said; we're not bound to end up a paint splatter on the universe's wall for another 3 - 5 billion years.
The Hubble Telescope, since its maiden launch in 1990, has improved at about the same rate as that of cell phones. Remember cell phones in 1990?
After the talk, there was a Q&A and increased imbibing of aforementioned cosmic cocktail--blueberry vodka and lemonade--clearing the path for everyone to "groove to celestial tunes." The night was part of the Secret Science Club series, which sponsors monthly events at The Bell House. The Bell House itself has gotten a reputation for being kind of an unusual place--performances featuring the likes of Neko Case and Charlotte Gainsbourg are interspersed with Secret Science Club nerd and Arrested Development Viewing parties (the best of season three is next week!).
This is the ultimate revenge of the nerds!
[Image via LonelyReviewer]