Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

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Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby admin » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:32 pm

This is an interesting article on how China can not find anyone to run their mega radio telescope, and mentions how hard it was to find astronomers to live in La Serena inspite of being a much nicer place to live.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/08 ... comments=1

We have helped some clients build telescopes in northern Chile, and most of the technicians fly in for a tour of duty as needed. The scientist tend to do there thing remotely. I could not imagine being stuck at a radio telescope in the middle of nowhere in China, regardless of the pay check.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby admin » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:32 am

You know I had the thought yesterday, after watching a piece on the local news about how the university in the Bio-bio was building a little tiny observatory in the south to be the top astronomy program in the country. I was thinking, 'really'?

Why the hell is there not the top astronomical university in the World in La serena?

They have billions of dollars in hardware (someone else paid for), the worlds greatest experts passing through day in and day out, sometimes for years; why the hell is the government not capitalizing on it?

The lack of imagination is breath taking.

yet, they are hell bent on downgrading everyone's education in the country to the tune of a 100 billion dollars (and then some).
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby at46 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:44 pm

admin wrote:The lack of imagination is breath taking.

Graffiti is pretty imaginative in Chile though :)

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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby Britkid » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:58 pm

Admin, it's because of how astronomy works as a profession. The best telescopes in Chile, the ones that are worth travelling from say Europe or the US to Chile to use because they are better (or better situtated) than any there, are quite few and have to be divided between many astronomers. Therefore, you can't get months of time on a telescope.

Also, the amount of data you can gather is immense. It may take 20 weeks to analyse the data you spent 2 weeks gathering.

I know all this because I studied astronomy at Uni and the Profs explained it to me.

So, for both reasons, there is little value for professional astronomers in living near the telescope.

Astronomy at University is not very practical, either. It is about 80-90% theory. So, again, studying nearer to telescopes is not particularly helpful.

A lot of the telescopes have been funded internationally and so Chile would presumably not be able to give large amounts of extra time to its own citizens.

Technicians are a different matter, they will have to spend more time on site, maybe even live there or nearby.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby Andres » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

In a recent visit to the Parkes radio telescope (in country New South Wales, Australia), I was told that nowadays astronomers RARELY go to the telescope. Most personnel there are the ones performing maintenance.

This contrasts to five or ten years ago when the astronomers would go there.

I presume this the case at other telescopes too. The Siding Spring Observatory visual telescope near Coonabarabran was also devoid of astronomers when I visited it earlier this year.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby admin » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:47 am

Yea the telescope projects we work on are all remote use by the scientist located aroumd the world.

My point is there is a big opertunity to build science education around the industry in chile.

Same ciuld be said for mining tech lithium tech, insert a pile of other industries chile should be a leader in at the education.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby frozen-north » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:31 am

admin wrote:
Yea the telescope projects we work on are all remote use by the scientist located aroumd the world.

My point is there is a big opertunity to build science education around the industry in chile.

Same ciuld be said for mining tech lithium tech, insert a pile of other industries chile should be a leader in at the education.



As already pointed by Britkid and Andres, what would be the advantage of an educational center in Chile as opposed to one in Massachusetts? It reminds me of the case of chocolate; the best known chocolates are from Belgium and Switzerland, but they don't grow coca beans there.

And a second point: I believe that the right in Chile still supports the idea that education is just another product, something that should be left to the market, same as all health care. Would they support any government that tries to interfere with the *free market*? I doubt it - unless they would make money out of it.

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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby jehturner » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:24 am

The University of La Serena has a growing astronomy department that started as just a couple of people (maybe 15-20 years ago, as far as I know), but it takes time and/or money to build a World-class department. Recently it seems to be taking off more and has started offering doctorates. Britkid is mostly right. There's quite a lot more to astrophysics than just taking and processing observations and a lot of it is done remotely and with assistance. Having good data from top facilities nevertheless helps a lot, but LS doesn't really get preference in that respect, though Chilean universities between them do typically get 10% of the available time, by virtue of hosting the facilities. It is, however, helpful for students to spend time at the telescopes, understand the instrumentation and how data are taken and reduced and interact with more researchers at the observatories. We have had visiting students from a number of countries, but LS obviously does have some advantage in being able to send them easily. Even so, a top researcher is going to be characterized more by their understanding of the physics etc. than personal access to the telescopes they use. Remember a lot of ground-breaking research is done using satellites like Hubble :-).

In terms of staffing the observatories, although foreign staff have some significant privileges, our spouses are not allowed to work, which I think puts a lot of families off. Also, Americans have been known to be eaten by lions when travelling overseas...

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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby HybridAmbassador » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:11 pm

China can not recruit scientist for their newly built FAST because the system is not an active but passive mirror, thus world best scientist not too interested going there. It also says world's biggest at 500 meters surface against Puerto Rico's Arecibo facility mirror measuring 300 meters. But in actuality the Chinese one only works as 400 meters. Thus all re known astronomers and scientists rather enlisting to going to Chile's Alma instead ....

While FAST is larger than Arecibo, its effective size is not really 500 meters across because the instrument spends much of its time off zenith. Therefore the effective size is about 400 meters, compared to Arecibo's 300 meters. Arecibo also has the capability to transmit radio waves, making it an effective tool to identify targets such as near-Earth asteroids. FAST is only a passive instrument.

As part of their review, the main question US officials had for Arecibo concerned its science mission, in comparison to newer projects, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Perhaps the exotic case for its existence was to identify signals from alien civilizations. While that would certainly be an historic finding that any astronomer would love to make, it seems an unlikely discovery. And that may be reason enough why no foreigner has yet moved to China, learned Chinese, and taken on the Byzantine bureaucracy of running the world's largest radio telescope.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby Britkid » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:20 am

HybridAmbassador wrote:China can not recruit scientist for their newly built FAST because the system is not an active but passive mirror, thus world best scientist not too interested going there. It also says world's biggest at 500 meters surface against Puerto Rico's Arecibo facility mirror measuring 300 meters. But in actuality the Chinese one only works as 400 meters. Thus all re known astronomers and scientists rather enlisting to going to Chile's Alma instead ....

"While FAST is larger than Arecibo, its effective size is not really 500 meters across because the instrument spends much of its time off zenith. Therefore the effective size is about 400 meters, compared to Arecibo's 300 meters. Arecibo also has the capability to transmit radio waves, making it an effective tool to identify targets such as near-Earth asteroids. FAST is only a passive instrument.

As part of their review, the main question US officials had for Arecibo concerned its science mission, in comparison to newer projects, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Perhaps the exotic case for its existence was to identify signals from alien civilizations. While that would certainly be an historic finding that any astronomer would love to make, it seems an unlikely discovery. And that may be reason enough why no foreigner has yet moved to China, learned Chinese, and taken on the Byzantine bureaucracy of running the world's largest radio telescope."


Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/08 ... comments=1


I suggest you post the source when you copy and paste something from the internet. When you are posting partly in your own words and partly a copy and paste you could subdivide more clearly between the two so it's easier for people to follow. Like I did above (quoting your post, but amending it).

Also, you are obviously biased in favour of Japan and against China. I don't know what your issue is with China but everything you say about Japan is always positive and everything about China is always negative.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby Britkid » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:24 am

What I said about astronomy is a little out of date. I finished my degree 15 years ago. There may be more remote working nowadays than I realised. A trend in this direction would make sense given the communications and other technology improvements over the period, and perhaps even issues surrounding higher airline prices and climate change.
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Re: Astronomers wanted: Chile VS. China

Postby Rhodolite » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:42 pm

I'm 100% with Britkid on this, HybridAmbassador. You post a lot of seemingly interesting information but I disregard information which appears without attribution.


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