The end of the Thirty Meter Telescope?


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The arriving dark age: It appears that the protests in Hawaii that are preventing the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope might end up killing the telescope completely.

The problem is twofold. First, the Democratic-controlled government in Hawaii is willing to let the protesters run the show, essentially allowing a mob to defy the legal rulings of the courts:

The Native Hawaiian protesters blocking the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea appear to have settled in for the long haul. After 2 months of protests, their encampment on the Mauna Kea access road has shops, a cafeteria, and meeting spaces. “It’s like a small village,” says Sarah Bosman, an astronomer from University College London who visited in July. “There are signs up all over the island. It was a bit overwhelming really.”

Second, there is opposition to the alternate backup site in the Grand Canary Islands, both from local environmental groups and from within the consortium that is financing the telescope’s construction.

Astronomers say that the 2250-meter-high site, about half as high as Mauna Kea, is inferior for observations. Canada, one of six TMT partners—which also include Japan, China, India, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California—is especially reluctant to make the move and could withdraw from the $1.4 billion project, which can ill afford to lose funding. Finally, an environmental group on La Palma called Ben Magec is determined to fight the TMT in court and has succeeded in delaying its building permit. It says the conservation area that the TMT wants to build on contains archaeological artifacts. “They’re willing to fight tooth and nail to stop TMT,” says Thayne Currie, an astronomer at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

We now live in a culture that is opposed to new knowledge. It is also a culture that prefers mob rule, giving power to the loudest and possibly most violent protesters, while treating the law as a mere inconvenience to be abandoned at the slightest whim of those mobs.

If this doesn’t define a dark age, I’m not sure what does.

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6 comments

  • Kyle

    We were just on vacation in Maui, and it seemed like a lot of the locals all oppose the TMT, almost every truck or car, that wasnt a rental car, had an upside down flag on it, a sign that the protesters use. For a people that claims to want to preserve its natural beauty of its mountains, we saw a lot of abandoned cars and garbage along the winding country roads that are away from the resorts and tourist centers.

  • Cotour

    Just one more reason to build the 400,000,000 meter high telescope on the moon, or higher.

    Just bring it to space and eliminate all on site protests.

    This protest mentallity will help drive humans to really move to the high ground.

    Just making some lemonade here.

  • Cotour

    Why stay here on earth and in America if stuff like this is what will be going on?

    “The Trump administration is considering launching a social credit score-style system in coordination with Big Tech that would use spy data collected from Amazon, Google and Apple devices to determine whether or not an individual can own a gun.

    “The proposal is part of an initiative to create a Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), which would be located inside the Health and Human Services Department,” reports the Daily Caller. “The new agency would have a separate budget and the president would be responsible for appointing its director.”

    HARPA would employ “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,” including Apple Watches, Amazon Echo and Google Home”

  • jburn

    These events dovetail in an interesting way with the successful test flight of starhopper. Ultimately it may be easier and cheaper to build and launch a far more powerful space based telescope — Hubble 2.0

    It’s still unfortunate; the obstructive flat earthers who would rather live in a dark past versus a shining future will be emboldened.

  • brightdark

    If TMT is canceled on Mauna Kea the protesters won’t stop there. They will want ALL the telescope taken down. After that, they’ll ignore the ‘sacred mountain’ except to play in the snow.

  • Richard M

    “If TMT is canceled on Mauna Kea the protesters won’t stop there. They will want ALL the telescope taken down. After that, they’ll ignore the ‘sacred mountain’ except to play in the snow.”

    Absolutely. There have been ongoing protests since the very first of these observatories went up in the 60’s – but now, it’s escalating in a way far beyond anything seen before.

    And worse: Last month the protestors shut down ALL of the observatories for five weeks. And after a deal was finally made with the protest leaders, we discovered just how high the stakes are: “The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) reported that on its first night back in operation, it located an asteroid called 2006 QV89 that was potentially on a collision course with Earth.”

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