Skip to main content

So, Arecibo needs money.  Not a lot of money.  More than I have.  But not a lot of money, as such things go.

Yes, the National Science Foundation has told the folks who run the Arecibo Observatory that they need to come up with outside funding to the tune of half their annual budget, or they will be shut down.  How much is this? $4 million.  From the news report:

But among astronomers, Arecibo is an icon of hard science. Its instruments have netted a decades-long string of discoveries about the structure and evolution of the universe. Its high-powered radar has mapped in exquisite detail the surfaces and interiors of neighboring planets.

And it is the only facility on the planet able to track asteroids with enough precision to tell which ones might plow into Earth -- a disaster that could cause as many as a billion deaths and that experts say is preventable with enough warning.

Yet, for want of a few million dollars, the future for Arecibo appears grim.

The National Science Foundation, which has long funded the dish, has told the Cornell University-operated facility that it will have to close if it cannot find outside sources for half of its already reduced $8 million budget in the next three years -- an ultimatum that has sent ripples of despair through the scientific community.

Hey, I understand how it is.  The cost of gas is up.  Economy is looking a little rocky.  There's a lot of competition for science funding.  Things are tight all over.

Well, maybe not all over.  See, that $4 million - that amounts to about 20 minutes worth of what we're spending in Iraq, according to the National Priorities Project.

So, I know it's a tough choice - maintaining the worlds foremost radio telescope for a year or pouring more money into the pocket of KBR for 20 minutes - but I think perhaps we should consider this problem carefully.  I mean, we can continue to use a proven facility which can track near-Earth objects that threaten the lives of billions, or we can fund a pointless, hopeless, and futile war for another 1200 seconds.

Yeah, that's a real tough choice.

Jim Downey

(Via MeFi.  Cross posted to my blog.)

Originally posted to Shadan7 on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:09 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site