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The Terrascope: Challenges Going Forward

13 Aug 2019, 16:13 UTC
The Terrascope: Challenges Going Forward
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Yesterday I renewed our acquaintance with the idea that large natural objects can stand in for technologies we have previously been engineering into existence. The progression is a natural one. The early telescope work of Hans Lippershey and Galileo Galilei began with small instruments, but both refractor and later reflector designs would grow to enormous size, so that today, even with the best adaptive optics and segmented mirrors working together, we are pushing hard on what can be done. Not to mention the fact that controversies over land use can come into play with gigantic observatory installations, as we’ve seen recently in Hawaii.
The fascination is that there is nothing in physical law to preclude ever increasing segmented mirror instruments, but we have to question their economic realities and their practicality. I think it’s a nod to the sheer ingenuity involved in linking seemingly disparate phenomena that David Kipping could turn work on the ‘green flash’ seen at sunrise and sunset into, first, the realization that the refractive flash would be a globe-circling ring as seen from space when the Earth occulted the Sun, and second, into the idea that it marked a potentially usable lensing phenomenon.
Here we’re letting ...

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