Gastronomical Science: Professional Eaters Hoping To Watch A Black Hole Consuming A Gas Cloud [VIDEO]

By Ben Wolford on March 3, 2014 2:50 PM EST

This NASA simulation shows what is projected to happen later this month at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, where a black hole will swallow part of a gas cloud. (Image: Screenshot/NASA)

This NASA simulation shows what is projected to happen later this month at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, where a black hole will swallow part of a gas cloud. (Image: Screenshot/NASA)

The black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy is expected to gobble a helping of gas cloud later this month in a rare and possibly observable galactic event. The world's astronomers will be watching to see what happens, but the world's gastronomers are now saying they don't want to be left out. We're talking about the people who run Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

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The International Federation of Competitive Eating has launched an Onion-esque campaign to be taken seriously in the world of science. Their first alleged study involved chicken wing eating efficiency, which identified "two highly efficient eating styles that will save Americans an estimated 116 million hours annually," according to the IFCE. The best was the "typewriter" method. Another study proffered "The Belt of Fat Theory," which paradoxically surmises that obese people are unfit for competitive eating. The fat restricts stomach expansion.

Now the "Research Division" has again stepped forward with a new undertaking: to monitor the consumption of a gas cloud by a black hole 25,000 lightyears away. "We understand that ambient light makes it difficult to see the stars, so we are searching for a location separated at a significant distance from human activity, such as Albany," said George Shea, identified as "Head of Research at the IFOCE" in the organization's press release. "If this cannot be achieved we will simply ask for time from the Keck telescopes in Hawaii."

And they actually did. They sent a formal, if laughable, letter to the director of the Keck Observatory requesting a time slot to use the telescope. "Our goal is to study the black hole's consumption of the gas cloud in an attempt to identify intake methods that can be employed by humans here on earth to increase eating efficiency," they wrote. According to the Huffington Post, the request couldn't be granted: For one, you've got to pay for it, and two, the telescope is booked through July.

Joking aside, there's seriously a gas cloud funneling toward our neighborhood black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, like water circles a drain. The gas cloud is called G2, and it's three times more massive than the Earth. Already, little bits of it are being pulled into the black hole, which is essentially a supermassive but tiny object (like if you were to cram 10 suns into New York City). This month, G2 is going to come close enough to Sagittarius A* that scientists think it will heat up to the point of releasing powerful, observable X-rays.

"Astronomers around the world are eagerly awaiting the first sign that this interaction has begun," said Jamie Kennea, of Pennsylvania State University, in a NASA statement. Major League Eaters are eager, too, though Shea admitted that "it is important to remember that the mechanics of the black hole and the human esophagus are entirely different." No word on whether the professional eater known as Russ "The Black Hole" Keeler, who in September consumed 11 cannoli in five minutes, will be paying attention to the astronomical gas-eating contest.

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