“Powerful,” he said. The audience in the lecture hall silently waited for him to continue. He did not.
“Professor McGinsberg,” said the moderator. “I believe the question was about your thoughts on the nature of black holes.”
“Yes,” replied the professor.
“Your personal thoughts based on your years of experience,” said the moderator. She looked down at the small stack of note cards she had placed on the table between them; a few dozen audience questions culled from hundreds of submissions.
“That is correct,” said the professor.
“Yes, but all you said just now was ‘powerful’ and then nothing else,” said the moderator.
The professor nodded.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go into more detail?” asked the moderator.
“Quite sure, thank you,” said the professor.
The moderator lifted the next note card. They finished the remaining questions in less than twelve minutes. That left them with an hour to go before the end of the seminar.
It would be reasonable but inaccurate to assume this was the low point of the moderator’s professional career. Unfortunately the many wordless minutes she spent staring at the tenured college professor as he refused to explore any topic in depth was merely an unpleasant carpet square compared to the dilapidated mansion that years earlier had been her true nadir. Mind you, I’m not actually going to tell you what happened on that day, I just thought letting you know about it would help you understand why she was able to sit there with such a placid smile while she and the professor said nothing for about twenty minutes.
Also there was a doctor. He was in the audience, and was pretty sure their lack of conversation was meant to be some kind of brilliant metaphor for the philosophical silence to be found in the nexus of a black hole; he gave a standing ovation.