[ExI] Update on the Hawaiian observatory shutdown

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sun Aug 25 23:00:11 UTC 2019

On Sun, Aug 25, 2019 at 4:37 PM William Flynn Wallace  <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> are there any things we could find out from it if it were built that we
> cannot find out by other means?

I suppose when our descendants look back on it a century or two from now it
won't make a lot of difference, but that huge telescope could see things 10
times dimmer than anything we can see today and I want to know about those
wonders now when I'm still alive. And that mighty telescope would be coming
online right about now and we would be discovering those wonders now except
for one thing, construction briefly started 4 years ago but then barbarians
shut it down.

> Is that the only location from which we can learn whatever they want to
> learn?

The 3 best astronomical observing positions on the surface of this planet
are Dome C in central Antarctica, the Atacama desert in Chile, and Mauna
Kea in Hawaii. Mauna Kea is the only one in the northern hemisphere and
that's half the universe.

> And those things - are they important in any practical way?

Back in the 1990's Fermilab was building the Superconducting Super
Collider, it would have dwarfed the LHC which discovered the Higgs particle
20 years later. The machine was about half finished when congress started
talking about canceling it. Fermilab director Robert Wilson went to
congress to try to talk them out of it. A senator asked him if it could be
useful in national defence. Dr. Wilson really wanted them to finish the
machine but he was a very honest man so he told them the truth, "No" he
said "the Superconducting Super Collider has nothing to do with defending
our country except to help make it worth defending".

Perhaps he should have lied and said it would make a nifty death ray
because the machine was canceled and the half finished tunnels that would
have housed it are now used to grow mushrooms.

 John K Clark
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