By Michele Bacigalupo
Especially after a long workday, it’s pleasant for people to desire to go out and kick back with a few drinks. It’s more rare, however, that people choose to pair casual beers with educational entertainment.
In Brooklyn last Thursday, local bar Videology hosted its monthly live event, Astronomy on Tap. The back room was filled with intellectually-minded individuals, ready to watch a screening of the television show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and engage in live discussion. Cosmos, voiced by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is a revival of Carl Sagan’s original documentary series from the ‘80s.
As mind-bending images of Earth and space manifested before the audience, several physics experts offered insights and commentary.
The special guest of the night was Dr. Kennet E. Flores, a geologist and professor at CUNY Brooklyn College, where he specializes in Earth and environmental science. Along with the two other MC’s–The Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer, Irene, and Tycho Brewhaha–Flores interjected DeGrasse Tyson’s narrative with tidbits of his own knowledge.
Flores transformed Videology’s screening room into a university lecture hall. Observing the scene, I was amazed by the attentive posture of the young patrons around me. The crowd listened closely to the questions posed by Flores, with many hands raised in response. Each audience member that spoke added to the thought-provoking discussion. Some answered Flores’ queries and some had follow-up questions.
Flores was undoubtedly thrilled to have a room full of new students, eager to learn and participate. He spoke passionately about his home village in Costa Rica, sharing a brief slideshow of photos for the room. Right away, he presented himself as the type of professor who lacks an egotistical complex. He seemed warm and receptive to the folks in front of him. Flores maintained his casual demeanor the entire night, sitting on top of a desk and swinging his legs in the air as he spoke to the crowd.
Because the night had an overall academic tone to it, I had no remorse about going out on a weekday. Thanks to Flores and the lively conversation he instilled, I learned a great deal more than I ever could from watching an episode of Cosmos in my own living room.
Photos by Michele Bacigalupo.