I was reading my latest copy of Nature, and in it, there is an article on ESO’s VLT. This revolutionary land based telescope will have a mirror that is 38 meters in diameter. It is an unprecedented piece of equipment. Or at least it would be, if it were under construction.
The article reads that Brazil had signed an agreement with ESO as the first non European country to be involved in the group. Its contribution (some 1.1 billion euros) would allow for the construction of the telescope, high in the Atacama desert. Some of the best possible skies that can be achieved on Earth. The project has now stalled, because Brazil now feels that its contribution (the same figure as the UK and France) is too high, as they have less astronomers than those countries. They should either pay less, or have more telescope time.
Where I agree that perhaps a financial reduction could be considered by ESO due to Brazil’s lesser number of astronomers, I think that Brazil is being very short sighted here. Perhaps they should consider that people might be interested in becoming astronomers if they knew there was such a wonderful scope right on the door step.
I feel that the astronomy community has become far too revolved around rivalry and competition, and forgotten how to work together. We are one race, one people on one planet in a universe of billions. The only way humanity will progress, is if we learn to work together. Especially in the field of astronomy. Why bother constructing larger and larger solo scopes, collaborate. Work together. Many hands, many eyes. Scientists from all over the world, working as one unit. To advance science. To advance knowledge.
Money will only last as long as it lasts, knowledge will last forever!
The Nature article & Image – http://www.nature.com/news/brazil-delays-stargazing-pact-1.13670