From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
A disagreement over the design of what China hopes would be, for a short while, the world’s largest optical telescope might delay that telescope’s construction.
On one side is an established engineering team, led by a veteran optics expert responsible for the nation’s largest existing telescope, that is eager to push ahead with an ambitious design. On the other are astronomers reveling in a grassroots priority-setting exercise—unprecedented for China—who have doubts about the ambitious design and favor something simpler.
Now, a panel of international experts has reviewed the designs and come out squarely in favor of the simpler proposal, according to a copy of the review obtained by Science. But the conclusion has not ended what one Chinese astronomer calls “an epic battle” between the high-ranking engineers accustomed to top-down control over projects and the nascent grassroots movement.
The telescope would have a mirror diameter of 12-meters, topping the 10.4 meter Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands. To get it built in time to be the largest, they need to approve the construction plan by 2018.
The story is interesting in that is highlights the technical problems that exist for these large telescopes, most of which have had serious engineering issues that have limited their scientific output. The disagreement here is caused by an effort by some Chinese scientists to avoid these problems by using a simpler design.
Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.
This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.
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