M i k e  G a r c i a
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Any advice for someone watching the program or reading this, about how to get started?

Mike Garcia:
If you want to get interested in astronomy, if you are interested in it and you want to learn more about it, the main thing is that you have to work hard at school. You have to be good at math, and good at science. It helps to be good at English too, because you have to be a good writer, because you have to write. I mean, the currency of science is papers, writing the papers, and the better writer you the better you will get your ideas across. It makes a huge difference.

You don't need to go out and buy an expensive telescope, that's one thing that you don't have to do. A cheap telescope is fine. You don't even need a telescope because there's so much on the Web. And there is some stuff on PBS that's wonderful: "Nova," science shows, all different kinds of science shows about astronomy.

A small telescope is a good place to start if you want to do it that way. You can see an awful lot with just a cheap, $100 telescope and a pair of binoculars, and you know, follow it up. If you like that, if you want to get something bigger, but don't feel you have to.

What would you most like to see happen with the study of black holes?

Mike Garcia:
I think that one of the most exciting things that could be done with black holes is to really image them, really take a picture of a black hole. It's incredibly difficult to do. They are incredibly tiny objects, but it's not impossible, you can imagine ways to do it.

And just because it's hard does not mean that you shouldn't think about and try to find ways to do it and maybe you'll find ways to do it that are easier. So it's conceivable that we could image the black hole that's at the middle of our Galaxy, or even black holes in other galaxies. I may not see it happen, but it will happen eventually, and until you think of the ways to make it happen it's not going to.

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