Scientific Colloquium
April 16,, 2004

In the past, they were recognized as the most destructive force in nature. Now,
following a cascade of astonishing discoveries, supermassive black holes have
undergone a dramatic shift in paradigm---these objects may have been critical
to the formation of structure in the early universe, spawning bursts of star
formation and planets. As many as 200 million of them may now be lurking
through the vast expanses of the observable cosmos. The most accessible among
them appears to be lurking at the Center of Our Galaxy. In this talk, we will
examine the evidence that has brought us to this point, and we will see why
the astrophysical community is now looking with great anticipation to the
imminent breakthroughs that will permit us to see the shadow of a black hole
within this decade.