Friday, December 08, 2006

Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico

Originally uploaded by FrogMiller.

Above is a picture of me at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, taken earlier this year. This is the world's largest radio astronomy telescope, as well as the site of the strongest message beamed into outer space, as well as the setting for scenes in both Carl Sagan's book and movie, Contact, starring Jody Foster. Today's news brings a report that this observatory is taking the steepest budget cuts and the first layoffs since they opened in 1963.

I have mixed feelings about this - I hate to see how science always gets cuts first, but I'm encouraged by how well private enterprise has done things like SETI (using the Arecibo data) and Rutan's Spaceship one - in most cases faster, cheaper, and safer, than NASA or Congress did it. I hope that the Planetary Society, or SETI advocates, approach people to take up the slack.


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