Wednesday night I had the privilege of hearing a talk by Brian Schmidt, one of the three winners of this year's Nobel Prize in physics for his work as the leader of one of the two teams who independently discovered the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. This was his first public talk since being announced as one of the winners, and he even turned down an invitation to meet queen Elizabeth to give it! Despite the talk only having a week's notice, it was packed. Quite literally standing room only, as I and many other stood the entire time. There must have been easily two or three hundred people in attendance, many from the local community.
The talk was very informative, and given at a level that non-scientists could understand. As a result he didn't cover too much material that was new to me, but what he did cover he discussed in an engaging and knowledgeable manner. All in all it was a great experience, and I'm glad so many people from Hilo got to come and see some of what astronomers do up on top of the mountain. Positive PR is always a good thing for us!