Archive for June 15th, 2010

MUSE in Space!

Posted on June 15, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Games, Science, Travel |

Part 1: Speculation. OK, so I have this friend, that I met through this organization, who is a physicist. He teaches physics at the local U, and he’s brilliant at explaining mysterious mathematical concepts to the uninitiated. During the course of helping to facilitate several of his lectures for the organization, I’ve become a fan. Here in the Sonoran Desert, many residents run away when the temperature begins to stay at 100F (40C) or more, consistently. (Can’t really blame them, can you?) So, when I heard that this excellent speaker was giving a talk “downtown”, on Astronomy, I decided I would enjoy going to hear what he has to say, and support his project during this slow time of year.

Now, granted, I’m a bit of a Space Nut, as you’ll know if you read this post about how I collected moonlight on my body (shameless attempt to drive traffic to a prior post; I really did that, though). I like science in general; it is one of the creative arts for me. I’m not among those who believe it has definitive answers (nothing has definitive answers in my opinion) but I see it as a tool or filter to examine the Universe. This is important: “examine” not “conclude”. Perhaps you will put on sunglasses when it’s bright outside, and therefore are able to see, in greater detail, the nude pool party over your neighbor’s fence. The “nature” of the “party” hasn’t “changed” because of the “tool”—namely, the “sunglasses”—they just give you the opportunity to examine it in detail from one perspective. [Now, stop that! And go back into the house!] If you are like me (which I wouldn’t wish on you) you certainly wouldn’t make any Universal Conclusions about your neighbors based on that one observation of that one event. You may, however, decide to move away based on the one event. After all, they didn’t invite you, did they? Who wants to live next to people like that?

I checked out the venue for tonight’s lecture. It’s called Sky Bar. My first thought: “Quaint name for an astronomy club, that. Probably a rented room somewhere with mismatched chairs and concrete floors where science geeks gather.”

It turns out “Sky Bar” is an actual, well, Bar. You know: drinks; tables; dark room; bartenders; loud music; big screen tvs. The kind of place I generally stay away from…but! This one has a telescope mounted on the roof, which projects the night sky onto the aforementioned big screen tvs. And! They have “Family Night” on Tuesdays (don’t know how old the “families” have to be in order to be accommodated; it is a “bar” after all) during which they have a guest lecturer on an astronomical topic. Do you know anywhere else that has an astronomy bar? It’s so fun to live here!

Tonight’s topic is: “A Voyage through the Universe”. How could I not want to go?

This is an unprecedented blog post for me, because I’m posting Part 1 before I go. I shall UPDATE with Part 2: The Actual Experience upon my return. I just wanted to write up a little background first. I can’t believe this Bar for Space Geeks has been open since late last year, and I’m only just now hearing about it! See you later, with impressions.


Part 2: The Actual Experience: I’m back! My first reaction to the experience is that it was hilarious! What are they thinking? I went with three friends, all of whom knew the speaker: (warning! switching tenses!)

We walk past an enclosed patio with university-looking-types waiting in line to peer through a HUGE telescope. Looks fun. Right inside the door, there are teenagers crowded around experiments from Tucson’s vegetable oil-powered Physics Factory, which was parked outside. Once inside we’re in what looks like a warehouse, with a very long bar along once side (Did I mention that this is a BAR? Yes, I believe I did.)

There were three very large televisions placed along the brick wall opposite the bar; #s 1 and 3 showing a basketball game, the middle with a live cam-feed of the local mountains. As it was still daylight, the Sky Bar was not yet featuring the night sky. We noticed a small platform, a piano, and a lectern near the middle tv, and figured that’s where the speaker would stand. Right next to THAT were two pool tables; even at this early hour getting plenty of use. We took seats at a one of the small tables scattered about, and ordered some drinks; waited to see what would happen next. Presently our average, yet overpriced pizza was delivered from next door, and the place started to fill. I looked around at the students, instructors, and other kinds of people, many of whom had their laptops out, working on this or that; others, though, beginning to speak louder and louder as their drinks began to take effect.

The speaker arrived, came over to say “hello”, and wondered out loud what he’d gotten himself into. They gave him a microphone and projector, and let him loose on the crowd. He began to speak about the wonders of the Universe, the relative sizes of the various galaxies and planets, and showed us what our sun will look like when it finally explodes sometime in the future. He told us we’d have time to finish our drinks, first.

A little girl, there with her family, stares at the slides and at the speaker in rapture. A little boy, with a different family, loudly declares: “This is so BORING! When can we go home?”

“Clink” go the glasses.
“Thwack” sounds the pool cue.
“Roar” yells the group that is watching the game.
“Born”—did I hear him say “spiritual globules”?
No, it was spherical: Baby star’s name.

Visit the Sky Bar…if you dare.
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