Monday, November 21, 2005

huge telescopes

OK, this is geeky. Sorry.

Wired News has a story up about plans underway to build a 30-meter optical telescope. That's 30 meters, almost 100 feet wide. By comparison, the Keck telescopes in Hawaii are 10-meters across, and the Hubble space telescope's mirror is a mere 2.4 meters across. Light gathering ability goes up by the square of the mirror diameter, so a 30 meter telescope can gather about 10 times as much light and resolve objects 1/3rd the size of the Keck. The new telescope, to be called the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) will also use adaptive optics to avoid the distortion of the atmosphere. That's pretty cool, and it'll probably be able to see planets around other stars, but it's got a big problem. The name isn't cool enough.

Another telescope on the drawing board, that the Europeans might build, has got it right. It'll be called the OverWhelmingly Large (OWL) telescope. That's the way to name your gadget! Who cares if it can read alien license plates from 30 light years away, it's got a fantastic name!

Reminds me of the BFG9000, or ludicrous speed...


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