A deep dive on the Arecibo Telescope collapse

Originally published at: A deep dive on the Arecibo Telescope collapse | Boing Boing



Make up your mind, dude. Is he gonna shit, or is he gonna kill us?

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Arecibo feels like a symbol for our future in general - reduced funding to maintain infrastructure, battered by larger and more frequent climate-change-fueled extreme weather events, until it’s not safe or possible to keep things going, and everything suddenly fails in an uncontrolled manner…

(Also: Ah, Independence Day, the movie that gets people all around the world on their feet and cheering… when the White House blows up.)


Arecibo - home of the grandfather.


So — NOT aliens? Hmmmm.

It’s sad to see such an iconic telescope fall down. It had a long run.
Unfortunately, under-designing is endemic to big astronomical telescopes. I have spent time at five big telescopes in the last 20 years; four of them have had to have building or dish bearings beefed up or replaced to handle the final as-built load, which was higher than the design load.
There are a couple contributing factors to this. One is the perennial underfunding of projects, in that the astronomers want to get a lot of bang for their buck, and tend to be optimistic. Another is a failure to do a meticulous recalculation of the system loading after the inevitable design changes are made.
This project also is very different from most telescopes in that it’s close to the ocean and its salty sea air. We’re used to working on dry mountaintops.


The Greenbriar Telescope collapsed in 1988 as well. (How the heck was that 35 years ago???)

Honestly, what did them both in was the desire to use them as much as possible and as long as possible without being willing to invest in the maintenance that both of them needed. Both of them were also cutting edge, hard things to do when they were built, which means that there were mistakes made in both cases.

I just really hope that the same thing happens in Arecibo as happened at Green Bank: that they will rebuild bigger and better than ever, so the science can continue.

(And I also really, really hope that they can keep up with the maintenance this time.)

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It’s too bad the telescope collapsed, but the video of the collapse is really amazing to watch.

To be fair, that was the model for public housing, too. So, we already know that not providing adequate funding for public projects is a recipe for destruction.


Say what now?

Dogs Reaction GIF by MOODMAN


There are two times in life when it is acceptable for a man to cry.

When he’s born.
And when his mother dies.

What kind of namby pamby bullshit are you trying to sell?


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