Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dishing it out

A few more postscripts to last week's Washington, DC meeting on the future of Arecibo:

Science Magazine pointed out that NSF officials aren't so pleased that scientists are lobbying Congress on behalf of Arecibo.

"We commissioned a panel to determine scientific priorities," says Wayne van Citters, who heads the agency's astronomy division. "To involve Congress in one aspect of it is not a productive way to go."

From van Citters' perspective, the senior review panel's report should be the last word on how funding is prioritized. And, historically, it has been to the astronomy community's benefit to present a unified front. But the review panel's recommendations were based on outdated information, says NAIC director Bob Brown: Instead of staying static, as the panel assumed, the NSF budget will likely be growing in the next year, leaving to enough to go round for everyone.

Frankly, even if the budget were shrinking, I bet that scientists who depend on Arecibo for their work would still be pushing to keep it alive. And they should: there's lots of useful science left in Arecibo, and it would be a shame to see that science lost over a sum of money that, to the NSF, is basically loose change.

But enough editorializing. If you'd like to actually read the talks that were presented at the conference, they are all available here.

Wonkette got in on the Arecibo act with this totally unilluminating post. But still, it's nice to be noticed.

The Cornell Chronicle also featured a story on the meeting.

An editorial in the Cornell Daily Sun (the student paper) declared, "Tragically, we recognize that at this point in the process, Cornell has done all it can to save Arecibo."

Oh, and I mentioned Robert Kerr's quip about painting Google across the dish in Friday's Visible Universe column.

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