Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
China is still finding it difficult to hire the scientists necessary to run its FAST radio telescope, the largest single dish radio telescope in the world.
And why is that?
For job candidates, the major stumbling blocks often are financial incentives and research independence, researchers told the South China Morning Post. The telescope’s remote location also may give candidates pause.
George Smoot, a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006, said candidates interested in working in a more developed setting might think twice about spending a lot of time in an area known for its traditional rural villages.
“Another issue is how much the Chinese Academy of Sciences will influence and direct activities there,” Smoot said. “It is an issue to people unless they have some straight link.” [emphasis mine]
It must always be remembered that nothing in China is done without the government’s approval. For western astronomers, used to having a great deal of independence, this fact makes working there somewhat unappealing.