This week the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland was holding a conference on the future research possibilities of the James Webb Space Telescope, and ended the conference with a writer’s workshop/press conference today.
Not surprisingly, there was not a lot of press interest. The Webb telescope is way behind schedule and over budget, and is not scheduled for launch until 2018. For most of the press, a press conference now on what Webb might someday do is really nothing more than a NASA sales pitch. Most reporters, including myself, don’t find these kinds of press conferences of much worth.
However, after thinking about it a bit, I decided to go, with the hope that I might be able to find out some more details about the state of the telescope’s construction.
To my astonishment, I discovered how little press interest there was, as it turned out I was the only journalist there! When the presentations ended, the whole workshop became an exercise in answering Bob Zimmerman’s questions about Webb and astronomy. I felt a bit embarrassed about this, but then decided the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask, and forged ahead. Moreover, the situation probably was far more embarrassing for the press people at the Institute then it was for me.
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