The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

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brian livesey
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The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by brian livesey »

This month has seen more protests by native Hawaiians and sympathisers opposed to the construction of the mammoth Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Hawaii's highest shield volcano, Mauna Kea ( or Maunakea to native Hawaiians ).
There are, as we know, a plethora of astronomical observatories on the extinct volcano, but not at the actual summit, which has cosmological significance in Hawaiian mythology, where the Earth God meets the Sky God.
It's claimed that when the telescope is completed, it will produce images 12 times sharper than Hubble. Modern astrophysics demands ever-increasing improvements in its technology, and the Thirty Meter instrument will, presumably, yield more science about the universe.
Protestors say that Hawaii is a victim of colonialism and that native Hawaiians are being rode over roughshod. Protesters have blocked roads leading to the construction site of the new instrument, but permission has been given for site preparation and construction to continue. What do we skywatchers think about this culture clash?
Last edited by brian livesey on Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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David Frydman
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Re: The Thirty Metre Telescope protests

Post by David Frydman »

Put it 100ft lower or build it in Chile.

Regards,
David

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Re: The Thirty Metre Telescope protests

Post by mike a feist »

Does Modern Astrophysics really demand ever- increasing improvements in its technology? Astrophysicists might of course in the same way that many amateurs astronomers develop accute aperture fever. Does it all really matter? As David wrote, build it somewhere else. I might add, why build it all - is it really worth all the hassle, upset and bad feeling that it has seemed to have caused? Regards maf ( not a cosmologist nor astrophysicist ...just a skywatcher)

brian livesey
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by brian livesey »

It's been said that we shouldn't let the past encroach on the present, lest we should forfeit the future. There are many examples of where progressive ideas and projects have been abandoned or delayed because of long-held ideas that have lost their social legitimacy, i.e. have become old-fashioned.
Are the telescope protesters truly representative of the native majority? Maybe a referendum could be held on this sensitive issue. Alternatively, they could give the telescope, say, a religious title, such as the "Eye of Mauna", to placate protesters.
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mike a feist
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by mike a feist »

Personally, I find it hard to believe that people really still believe in 'the gods', whatever form they are presented, being aboriginal 'dreamtime', Hawaiian "God of the Earth" and "God of the sky" or even the the "Gods" of the various worldwide religions. Perhaps this confrontation is as much cultural rather than religious.
Whether spending billions on building huge observatories is really justified, may be a big element too. Professional astronomers often are reported as saying "we want to find out how the universe began", or some such. I feel that looking to solve the big-picture questions with cosmology or religious is pointless and as it is all beyond human understanding. Regards maf

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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by brian livesey »

Some would take issue Mike with your claim that the universe is "beyond human understanding". This seems to be a blinkered attitude. In medieval Europe, before the invention of the telescope,
the stars were thought to be angels. Surely you are not saying that our knowledge of the stars is as limited now as it was then, are you?
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by mike a feist »

No, I am not saying that we have not learned much in the last few centuries, but that humanity cannot hope to completely understand the complexity of the universe. The universe is so big and the human brain so small! The timescale of the Universe is so long, humanity's lifetime is just a instant when compared to that.
The complexity of daily life is almost about as much as the person in the street can cope with, me included, and worrying about mathematical proofs of this or that of cosmology certainly beyond us. I am just a " man in the street " who gets some solace from skywatching. Regards maf.

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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by skyhawk »

"Does Modern Astrophysics really demand ever- increasing improvements in its technology? "

Er............. sorry, yes or we would all, in a similar light still be using steam trains and Ox and Cart

Was not the telephone an increased improvement in its previous technology, the ship's diesel engine over steam, the digital camera over film, the microchip over the difference engine

" but that humanity cannot hope to completely understand the complexity of the universe"

Good job Isaac Newton, Plato, Empedocles etc though beyond that reasoning

That's it, we can't hope to learn any more, lets stop now.....................
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mike a feist
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by mike a feist »

Looking at it another way.......as the old adage goes...
" There is one thing worse than not getting one's heart 's desire...and that is getting one's heart's desire".
If mankind eventually discovered and understood everything about the universe, what then?
One might turn to another and say "Is that it? What do we do now!".

Please note that my original comment, Skyhawk, I was referring to astrophysics and cosmology and the cry for bigger and bigger, more and more expensive telescopes, not the general development in day- to-day uses of technyology.

The first posting on this thread asked what other skywatchers here thought about the cultural clash , perhaps suggesting it was a clash between old religion and modern science.

This thread is getting a bit silly and out of hand....so I give up!
Regards maf

brian livesey
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by brian livesey »

We can never know everything about the universe for the simple reason that everything is subject to change. Revealed phenomena lead us on to new phenomena. This makes astronomy and the study of nature in general a never-ending adventure:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at where we started
And know the place for the first time" - T.S.Eliot.

The telescope protesters should consider what science has revealed about Mauna Kea that runs counter to their beliefs about the mountain. It's one of a chain of shield volcanoes, situated in a subduction zone. Nothing magical there.
It's as well to remember that native Hawaiians practised human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism until 1816.
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by brian livesey »

Construction of the $1.4bn Thirty Meter Telescope on the Mauna Kea has been blocked since mid-July due to the protests. Now, planning consent has been granted at an alternative site at La Palma in the Canary Islands.
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by David Frydman »

Brian, that sounds O.K.

At least until La Palma splits into two pieces.

I remember putting my hand in a hole in the rock and it was still hot.

The sky was good as was Tenerife.

Regards,
David

brian livesey
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by brian livesey »

If La Palma splits apart David, we could end up with two 15 metre telescopes :wink: .
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David Frydman
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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by David Frydman »

Brian, it seems that it is not if, but when La Palma will split in two.

The Tsunami might be 100ft high along the east coast of the U.S. but maybe 40ft in England.
African coast 300ft high waves.
Speed 500mph.
7 hours to cross the Atlantic.

La Palma is very steep. The drive up is interesting.

Regards,
David

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Re: The Thirty Meter Telescope protests

Post by Brian »

I seem to remember Discovery Channel (?) doing a programme on this topic some 10 years ago :?

"Not if but when" . Or will Yosemite blow first?
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