[ExI] Update on the Hawaiian observatory shutdown

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Mon Aug 26 18:45:17 UTC 2019

On Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 12:30 PM Dave Sill via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> *When starlight from billions of years ago zips across the universe and
> finally comes into focus on Earth, astronomers want their telescopes to be
> in the best locations possible to see what's out there. Despite years of
> legal battles and months of protests by Native Hawaiian opponents, the
> international coalition that wants to build the world's largest telescope
> in Hawaii insists that the islands' highest peak — Mauna Kea — is the best
> place for their $1.4 billion instrument.But just barely.*

For some reason you didn't include this part:

*"**Mauna Kea stands nearly 14,000 feet (4,300 meters) above sea level,
more than twice as high as the Spanish site *[...]*  Depending on the kind
of science you want to do, it's going to be a 10% hit to a 50% hit in
speed, You are going to have to observe that much longer at La Palma to get
the same quality data.* [...] *Mauna Kea, since it is higher, would have a
thinner atmospheric layer and would observe more in certain infrared
ranges, The possibility of capturing the image is lower at la Palma."*

And when it comes to super weak infrared light every photon counts because
they come from the most distant objects in the universe and they tell us
the most about the shape and fate of the cosmos;  they are so distant that
even ultraviolet light will be redshifted into the infrared due to the
expansion of the universe.

If Mauna Kea was really "just barely" better than La Palma the astronomers
wouldn't have suffered fools and delayed the entire project for 4 years to
try to get the better site. The Atacama Desert would be just as good but
then there would be no large telescope in the northern hemisphere. The
second best in the north was La Palma, there were already telescopes there
so they knew Mauna Kea was not "just barely" better but significantly
better, so significantly that astronomers thought it was worth it to stop
the entire project for 4 years on the off chance they could still get the
superior place.  It worked but it didn't work, yes the law says the
astronomers won but the law will never be enforced. La Palma is better than
nothing I guess, but it's a poor second.

And now I have a question that I find completely bewildering. Can somebody
explain to me why nearly every member of this list feels they have a moral
duty to find excuses for these anti-scientific blockheads?

John K Clark
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