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Hawaii Extends Thirty Meter Telescope Permit Amid Protests (npr.org)
85 points by everybodyknows 79 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



I think a lot of people in La Palma would be quite happy to have it built in the Roque de los Muchachos obvervatory [1] if Hawaii doesn't want it.

The local papers are positively salivating at the prospect.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roque_de_los_Muchachos_Observa...


I visited Mauna Kea as a tourist some years ago.

At the time, there were protesters present.

They appeared to believe that they had been promised there would be a limit on how many telescopes were build, and that the astronomers had broken that promised by starting to build a limit+1th telescope without removing an existing one first.

Anyone know if there's any truth to this?


Part of the TMT agreement (from 2015) involved removing some of the telescopes[0]. At least one telescope has been removed (the Caltech Submillimter Observatory, CSO) but aside from the CSO I'm not sure what the status is of other removals. The agreement was that:

> three or four of the mountain’s 13 existing telescopes must be dismantled over the next decade.

This implies the currently agreed upon limit is 10 or 11 telescopes (including the TMT). Unless the agreement has changed, I don't think the promise has been broken since the removal was over the 2015-2025 timescale. That being said, I'm unaware if there was a previous deal.

There had been some controversy in the past regarding "outrigger" telescopes for the 10m Keck telescopes. These would have been used in combination with the 10m telescopes to do interferometry. It was argued that they were thus not "new" telescopes, but rather additions to the existing Keck telescopes. This was controversial and they were never built.

[0] https://www.nature.com/news/hawaii-prunes-mauna-kea-telescop...


The outriggers did get approval. My understanding is that they were not built primarily for financial reasons.


Okay, thanks for the clarification. I hadn't previously heard what the ultimate reason was.


I don't know for certain the specific case you are referring to, but it sounds like the Submillimetre Array (SMA). The issue was that SMA was being counted as one telescope (from a functional point of view, it is), but it has 8 antennas.

I believe some telescopes have been removed to make way for TMT. The Caltech Submillimetre Observatory (CSO) for one.


It seems to me one of the best ways to protect a sacred site would be to put a serious telescope upon it.

As it restricts access for a host of other activities for many miles around to keep light polution amd vibration to a minimum.


Even though I think that wouldn't persuade the protesters, it's an interesting point to make.


Limiting discourse to only your way or the highway is disrespectful and precisely how these protections are ignored. This time it’s a telescope, next time it won’t be.

Perhaps the community wants to protect their sacred site from building a telescope as well. Ignoring that because you believe your cause to be more valuable than their home isn’t justified. It’s as nonsensical as claiming that the best way to protect against pregnancy is to get pregnant, it’s just doublespeak.

We could level a bunch of suburbia all over the country and put telescopes there, and that would both remove a blight on the American landscape while protecting another untouched one. But this isn’t what we discuss because “their” sacrifice is much easier for us to agree on than ours. Like it or not, it’s the same colonialist logic that led to the genocide of the American natives.


Every source I've found just says "it's sacred in the Hawaiian religion" or "it's a sacred place" but always a vague answer. If you wanted to build on the site of the Wailing Wall or the Kaaba, the opposition would have a very specific list of ways those sites are sacred, with names and events. Additionally, less than 0.5% of Hawaiians practice the Hawaiian religion in question.

Frankly I think this is a bunch of contrarians opposing the construction just to have something to feel self-righteous about.


>> always a vague answer.

> Mauna a Wākea has long been a site of sacred cultural activity for Kānaka ʻŌiwi, at times serving as a burial ground. The sacredness of the Mauna is embedded in its Kānaka ʻŌiwi name, which reflects its connection to the sky: Wākea is the sky father in Kānaka ʻŌiwi cosmology.

>> Frankly I think this is a bunch of contrarians opposing the construction just to have something to feel self-righteous about.

> Beyond their patent offensiveness, such characterizations are as false as they are unhelpful. “Science and culture have long coexisted in Hawaiʻi,” Ecohydrologist Aurora Kagana-Viviani wrote in a recent Medium post, in which she traced the ways the scientific establishment all too often continues to ignore this evident fact. What have not always coexisted are scientific inquiry and fundamental respect for the people who come under science’s microscopes—or inhabit the realms of its telescopes.

https://www.thenation.com/article/mauna-kea-tmt-colonial-sci...


It's a bit complicated; there are sacred sites all around the summit, but nothing on the summit, itself. The claim is that the summit was so sacred that they didn't even build temples there. My, admittedly cynical, take is that there is nothing on the summit because it is cold and barren and there isn't enough air to breathe. However, it is clear that Mauna Kea, in general, was an important place in Hawaiian religion and spirituality.


Ancient Hawaiians also constructed the largest primitive rock quarry in the world near the summit of Mauna Kea (https://www.nps.gov/places/mauna-kea-adz-quarry.htm), to mine dense rock for stone tools. So it's hard to believe that pre-contact Native Hawaiians believed that the summit of Mauna Kea was too sacred to build near (the TMT would be further below the summit than most of the existing telescopes [only the VLBA antenna would be lower]).


What percentage of a total community has to believe something is sacred before it is accepted as so?

The idea of going with what the majority thinks falls apart in this context.


Disclaimer: I am not a native Hawaiian, so this can be taken with a grain of salt.

In the Hawaiian religious beliefs, the Mana (spiritual power) of a person does not end with their life. The Iwi (bones/remains) still contain the Mana of a person. In addition, traditionally the Ali'i (noble people) were held in high regard, and were often seen as holding a tremendous amount of Mana - which was their mandate to rule -.

Mauna a Wakea (Muana Kea - named for Wakea (Sky Father), one of two primal deities), was a traditional burial site for Ali'i. So the sacredness of the mountain is derived from the fact that it is in close proximity to Wakea, and also importantly because the Mana of the Ali'i are believed to still be present. As a side note disturbing Ali'i remains is thought to be Kapu (forbidden for spiritual reasons, often with drastic punishment - traditionally -).

So while to outsiders it may seem like "a bunch of contrarians" the story is much more nuanced. And trying to explain a full belief system in a news sound bite, I imagine would be difficult. As others have pointed out there is a long history of oppression and discrimination as well, so native Hawaiians have a reason to be agitated that their voice is not being respected.

If anyone with more knowledge can correct/elaborate on the ideas above, I would appreciate that.


How do you know that the site being considered significant is tied solely to belief in Hawaiian cosmology? I don’t know much about Hawaiian culture but couldn’t it be the case that a wider proportion of the population considers the site significant for varying reasons? This article looks to imply just that: https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/7/24/20706930/mauna-kea-...

“Inseparable from Hawaiian culture is a love of the land, ’āina. For Hawaiians — who thrived in the islands before foreigners arrived at the end of the 18th century — care and attachment to the land is central to their identities. The term “aloha ’āina,” literally meaning love of the land, has long been a rallying cry for Hawaiians.”

I don’t have a horse in the race but feel there might be more to it than “...a bunch of contrarians opposing the construction just to have something to feel self-righteous about.”


It seems the point is no one knows if the site is genuinely significant or not. There's a claim it's significant, but the claim doesn't appear to be any more specific than "a demigod lives there".

Obviously there's no way to make a rational impact study of the effect of a large telescope on a demigod.

I don't think it's about self-righteousness, but it probably is about sovereignty. Some Hawaiians don't like outsiders coming in and building expensive things they won't personally get to use.

It's never really about a demigod, because religion is mostly just politics rationalised (?) by appeals to the supernatural, and isn't really about anything supernatural at all.


I don’t have a horse in the race but feel there might be more to it than “...a bunch of contrarians opposing the construction just to have something to feel self-righteous about.

I wouldn't agree there. If you're a thinking human being, you have a horse in the race. Right now, a bunch of superstitious nitwits are swinging a hammer at its knees.


Let's just say you are a member of a group of people who have been in a constant cultural conflict with another group of people. For hundreds of years they've inserted themselves into your homelands, force changes to the culture to fit their needs, and generally been entirely disinterested in actively engaging with you as a coequal resident of their space.

Then, finally, you're able to find some ways to use their cultural system against them to get your needs met and your voice heard in your homeland. Some of this involves appeals to logic, but others involve appeals to emotion. To you, the ends justify the means. The stakes feel very high.

Now imagine some dude on the internet refers to you as a nitwit without really have looked at the larger picture of what your political action within your homeland means within the larger context of your struggle to maintain your culture and be represented as a coequal member of your homeland.

How do you think you'd respond to this dude on the internet?


What does any of that have to do with building a telescope? Sounds more like an extortion scheme.

If your culture doesn't contribute to the advancement of humanity, but rather actively stands in the way, then it needs to die.


That's a take...

1- This telescope doesn't need to be built here, right now. The world will not end if it isn't built, and all the "benefits" you might claim we gain from this are essentially marginal improvements over the existing half dozen telescopes in that area already. There is no reason that the previous expected agreement of "if you want to build new telescopes you need to decommission an existing one and replace it" can't be honored.

2- Do you know what "extortion" actually is? Do you know what the term "tyranny of the majority" means? Are you familiar with any actual sociological concepts in play in this scenario? Do you actually understand the hypothetical example I tried to walk you through previously, or would you like me to further break down a broad view of what this conflict is about rather than trying to go to snappy talking points and witty one liners? Are you actually just trollin son? These are all earnest questions.


Sounds like Osama Bin Laden, he was trying to get US military bases off of "sacred religious land" in Saudi Arabia.

Primary reason for 9/11, he stated.


I don't know that "declaration of holy war and terrorist attacks" quite equal "social pressure from lawsuits and protesting" but it was all left vague so I guess that's a read?


Yeah and let's burn down the Vatican and turn it into a cancer research center.


You bring the gas, and I'll bring the matches. Does next Tuesday work for you?


That's the result of colonialism, which usually promotes forced assimilation into the colonizers culture.

If you ask most natives in North America whey certain areas/things/animals are sacred, you might also get a 'vague,' answer because we have only recently stopped trying to systematically eliminate the native's culture and religion.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_sc...


I've always thought that if it was possible to not paint the telescopes white (and I realize it isn't), it would be a lot less of an issue. If they were painted brown they'd basically be invisible to most of the island. Instead, on a clear day, you can see them from almost anywhere on the Northern half of the island.

The result is that if you're someone whose already angry about natives having lost control of the islands, foreign tourists, etc. then the fact that you also have these foreign looking domes looming over the highest point in the island perpetually at the corner of your field of view is likely to provide a constant low-level irritant.

I suspect that, more than the somewhat tenuous claims of the summit having a history as a sacred site, are why the telescopes have become a focus for protest.


>Frankly I think this is a bunch of contrarians opposing the construction just to have something to feel self-righteous about.

Even if it were, would that invalidate their right to say what gets built on their hill in a way genuine religious sentiment wouldn't?

All I see is Scientists making Science look bad to the man on the street, again.


The interesting twist about building telescopes in Chile is that it gives the military industrial complex an excuse to build up to ‘protect’ them. Just like the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal the Hormuz strait and other internationally critical pieces of infrastructure. Sure people wont starve if a Chilean revolution takes over the telescopes and demands ‘taxes’, but the massive investment will protect itself.


Why is this better than launching a telescope into orbit?


Because for a given amount of funding and engineering effort, a telescope on the ground can be a lot larger.

Hubble has a 2.4 meter mirror, TMT is 30 meters. Resolution scales with the diameter of the mirror (so an order of magnitude more for TMT), while light gathering scales with the area (two orders of magnitude more for TMT).

Traditionally, there were two challenges for large ground based telescopes: a) We couldn't make telescope mirrors larger than ~5 meters because the glass starts to deform under its own weight and the view gets worse rather than better; and b) we lose too much to atmospheric distortion.

The solution to the first issue is to assemble large mirrors from many small mirrors in a honeycomb pattern[0].

The solution to the second one is adaptive optics[1]: Actuators and computer control can compensate for atmospheric distortion by precisely deforming the mirror in real time, several times per second, to cancel out the distortion. We still need a good location for the telescope to minimize the amount of distortion we need to handle, but with that we could for the first time achieve better resolution from the ground with the 10-meter Keck.

These days the benefits of a space telescope come not so much from visible light, but from other wavelengths that are fully or partially blocked by the atmosphere[2]. Like UV, X-ray, or infrared like the upcoming James Webb space telescope.

[0] https://www.wired.com/2008/10/in-the-late-197/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_optics

[2] http://gsp.humboldt.edu/OLM/Courses/GSP_216_Online/lesson2-1...


Because you can reach the summit of Mauna Kea with a RAV4 and not a Falcon Heavy.


I'm pretty sure that we can reach Mauna Kea with a Falcon Heavy, too.


We've already reached space with a Tesla Roadster, I'm sure a Toyota RAV4 wouldn't be much different.

It sure is a lot cheaper to go to Mauna Kea than space though.

/joke


Mass - cost-benefit still means ground based telescopes are the best option for most scenarios. The protests may change that equation.

As much as I’m automatically inclined to side with science over mysticism, there are other telescopes being built right now (ELT, GMT) in the same class, both in Chile, where the mountains aren’t sacred, but just mountains.

So - while they’re pushing on for now, it seems there’s as much dogma (we must have this telescope here) amongst scientists as their is amongst the spiritualists - yes, the top of Hawaii is a uniquely good spot for a telescope - within US borders - there are other spots just as good, however, but those would require international negotiation and cooperation rather than just domestic negotiation and cooperation.

It all comes down to cost/benefit, and I think it’s getting marginal for the TMT. They’re going to need round the clock security, as the protests won’t stop once it’s built.

It’s not too late to build it elsewhere - even in space. Launch costs have dropped dramatically since the TMT was conceived, and are continuing to do so. Assembly will then be the tricky part, as with JWST.


Bear in mind that Mauna Kea is only one of two excellent locations in the northern hemisphere... the other being Gran Canarias in the Atlantic. Chile is equally as good as Hawaii with stable ocean air and dry conditions making for fantastic seeing conditions, but it covers a very different part of the night sky down south.

I can’t imagine UH doing what the protectors are asking and simply plonk the TMT in a completely different ocean.

TMT is the only planned 30m class telescope in the northern hemisphere at the moment.

Longitudinal placement is also important for tracking transient phenomena such as FRB’s and NEO’s. this is why Hawaii is such a critical location for doing optical observations.

I would not be surprised if the Chinese build a thirty meter class telescope at some stage. Not sure where though?


I'm no telescope expert, but wouldn't somewhere high in the mountains near Leh, India also be suitable?

Or near Skardu, Pakistan? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skardu

On the high Tibetan plateau somewhere not very far from this airport?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qamdo_Bamda_Airport


Mountains within large mountain ranges are not as good as a (relatively) isolated peak like Mauna Kea. An isolated peak can have something resembling laminar flow of the air over the summit, resulting in good "seeing", whilst a peak within a large range has a more turbulent air flow above it.


Muana Kea also has a (permanent?) tropical inversion layer. This means a layer of warm air some way below the summit. What it looks like in practice is a very thick layer of dirty clouds topped by pristine, cloudless air.

Additionally, Hawaii has strict rules about light pollution, and street lights designed not to disrupt the telescopes.


Altitude and dryness are only two factors. The other major one is the relative calmness of the atmosphere. The air is stable and calm because the "ground" is flat for many miles around at Mauna Kea, and the mountain protrudes extra high above the local "ground". Before light pollution really kicked into gear, Mt. Wilson and Mt. Palomar were also pretty good because the ground is flat upwind: The Pacific Ocean.

Sites in the middle of mountain ranges aren't necessarily any good - you have to see what's upwind of the site. The high plains near Denver, CO are no good because the Rockies are upwind, for example.

The technical term in astronomy circles is "seeing" if you want to learn more.


China has lots of mountains and desert, so I don't think locations are a problem. There have been people-based problems though: https://www.wired.com/story/china-fast-worlds-largest-telesc...


They’re going to need round the clock security, as the protests won’t stop once it’s built.

I'm a bit skeptical of this particular claim as the existing telescopes haven't needed round the clock security. Generally speaking, I never felt the telescopes were as controversial as is made out. Rather, the opposition is a small, but very vocal minority. That said, I can see why TMT is particularly contentious as any new construction is an obvious point of resistance, and TMT is so much larger than the existing telescopes.


Thanks. So what kind of improvements do they expect with this one?


That’s actually a better question than you think. The answer is “we don’t know”.

The light gathering power will be greater than any current instrument. The spatial resolution will be better than any current non-interferometric system. The adaptive optics are in a new league, and the mirror coatings will allow a very broad spectrum to be sensed.

But what will we discover? We honestly don’t know. It’s been a bit of a bone of contention as many in science would argue that you should define your goals and then devise the experiment and apparatus - but cosmology and astronomy are a bit different, as most of the huge discoveries have been utterly unexpected, and have “just happened” as a result of better telescopes and observations, from moons of other planets to heliocentricism to other galaxies to red shift to the Big Bang to quasars and pulsars - we didn’t expect any of these things, we just found them.

So that’s the improvement - hopefully new science, new discoveries.


The larger the mirror of the telescope, the more light it can gather from a given source.

The expanded light-gathering capability of a thirty meter aperture combined with the great conditions that exist at the top of Mauna Kea because of its altitudes will allow for a lot of observations that would've been impossible before because the data produced wouldn't have been clear enough.


It's planned as a general purpose observatory. Bigger mirror than any ever used would allow sharper, better images.


Ok. So a space telescope would be prefered and this is the second best option, limited by budget?


Budget and maintainability - I mean the Hubble telescope only managed to stay in operation for as long as it did thanks to a number of maintenance missions via the Space Shuttle. That extended its lifetime by a considerable margin.

Meanwhile, this observatory will be much more easily accessible and will therefore have a lifetime many times that of the Hubble - and can become a museum after its lifetime.


Absolutely. The cost, even with current cheapening launch costs, would still be astounding. As long as we’re using chemical rockets fuelled from earth we are going to be really limited in terms of what we can put in space - and again, assembly - we couldn’t even get Hubble right first time, and it has taken thousands of hours of spacewalks to keep operating.

It’s totally been worth it though.

Stepping stones - if the new class of earth based telescopes finds something worth looking at, there will be space telescopes that make the JWST look like a toy - but not for a while yet. This is basically the “cheap” trial experiment.


> it has taken thousands of hours of spacewalks to keep operating.

The total eva time for all five servicing missions for Hubble is under 200 hours.


The ELT will be complete five years before the TMT, and has a forty meter aperture.


First light:

ELT 2025 (39.3m, 978m²)

TMT 2027 (30m, 655m²)

(Future first-light dates are provisional and likely to change. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremely_Large_Telescope)

Nice mirror size comparison: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremely_Large_Telescope#/med...


As a telescope, the ELT will be superior, but it is in the other hemisphere. So the TMT does not only give more observation "bandwidth", but also unlocks a high quality view into the northern hemisphere. Together, those two telescopes can cover the whole sky.


It's easier to build and modify a telescope on the ground. Once a telescope is launched it's extremely expensive to go make any changes to it, on the ground new experiments can be added later. Currently we have no way of doing a Hubble style modification even if we could get to the satellites (JWST is going to be launched very far out for example) that was something pretty unique to the Shuttle program.

On top of that building a telescope with a very large mirror is much harder because they have to be launched. The mirror on James Webb is only 6.5m (ish) and it requires a folding mechanism to fit inside the faring of rockets. Making a 30m mirror may not be possible without going to farings larger than any rocket around today. BFR if it actually pans out will make much larger space telescopes possible.


A service call for Hubble cost more than a hundred million dollars. A service call in Hawaii would probably cost a few thousand.

When you build something to go to space it gets way more expensive. Hubble cost around $4billion before it launched, JWST is gonna cost more than $10b, and WFIRST, a relatively cheap space telescope, will cost at least $3 billion.

The most expensive telescope on Earth only cost about $1 billion. It weights about 15 million pounds, so just the launch costs to put it in orbit would exceed the $1 billion it cost to build.


It’s pretty hard to launch a thirty meter mirror into orbit.


And if the construction location were the western wall? St Peters basilica? The Vietnam war memorial? Arlington National cemetery? A site of equivalent meaning to your worldview? What then?


Well, I don't think the Native Hawaiians actually built Mauna Kea. I also suspect that the majority of Jews would not approve of building something atop the Western Wall, the majority of Catholics would not approve of building on St Peter's Basillica, but a 2018 poll conducted by the main Honolulu newspaper found 72% approval for building the TMT among Native Hawaiians ( https://tinyurl.com/y2qboalr )


I looked up the estimated Native Hawaiian population in Hawaii; 298,000 people.

28% of that is 83,440.

A minority of 83,440 native people with shared history and spiritual beliefs are asking to have what is held dear to them treated in a way that does not feel like a violation.

How small a group must they be to make ignoring their plea acceptable?


Well, if the other 72% of Native Hawaiians want to see it built on Mauna Kea, why do you dismiss their preferences? If just one person claimed to be offended, does that mean the project has to be stopped? The line has to be drawn somewhere, and 50% seems like a good choice.


in this hypothetical, are there already a dozen telescopes installed on St Peter's Basilica?


From their perspective all placed there by fiat and self-serving discourse of power.


Most of those locations don't take up 1/4 of a state, though.


Exceptions for one’s own beliefs and sense of reasonableness while denying others.


Mauna Kea is important to astronomers, hence their desire to build there. Would you feel their decision would be more acceptable if that belief were grounded in superstition, historical circumstance, or contemporary practicality?

Killes 79 days ago [flagged]

Maybe its the sacred lands sacred destiny to offer us a view into the cosmos, who has any better clue than any one else to guess divine intents of any kind ?


I presume they have some sort of source of truth for this stuff like a religious scripture or oral tradition, but this should be obvious and I fail to see how you could have missed it.


[flagged]

esyir 79 days ago [flagged]

Yeah, no.

There are many conflicting beliefs and values held and no way to keep everyone happy. You don't avoid beef because it's a sacred animal to Hindus.

And if your attitude and approach reflects that of the protestors, then that certainly helps mine move towards "fuck them".


> There are many conflicting beliefs and values held and no way to keep everyone happy

Lets have a look at how history has gone. "We need a nuclear test site. The French decided Tahiti would be the best place". "We need a site to test the hydrogen bomb. The Americans decided Marshall islands would be the best place". Both those victim populations now suffer the consequences of those actions of a much more powerful country. Hawaii's history is also muddied with colonialism. Perhaps having a shred of empathy and respect might be a better way to start engaging with them about building a telescope rather than using the "tried and true" "fuck them" approach you're implying is appropriate.


I respond with respect and empathy to those who extend it first.

>How about you have a shred of respect for the people whose sacred land it is and whose understanding defines what's acceptable use? Rather than being a selfish, arrogant colonialist.

This was not that.

And hell, look at what is actually happening here. First, he allowance of the TMT was in exchange for the closure of 5 other telescopes of which their areas would then be restored. Second, and perhaps more importantly, most natives are perfectly fine / support the telescope too, judging by the provided polls (72/15 support/oppose). The anti-telescope group is a minority of the natives.

A nitpick though, the analogy that you're using is absolutely terrible. In what way is a telescope analogous to a nuclear test? Where is the "more powerful country"?


Because building telescopes is exactly like testing hydrogen bombs.


> You don't avoid beef because it's a sacred animal to Hindus.

No, but you wouldn't build a slaughterhouse next door to a temple, would you?

The request here is for respect. You're moving from "no way to keep everyone happy" to "fuck them" in the space of two sentences, which tells me you put effectively zero value on actually keeping anyone happy. That... just doesn't say good things about you as a person.


Also if I had hindu guests, or in this case I was visiting them, I would not eat beef..


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Think about infant mortality, sanitation or historical practices like suttee.


> Think about infant mortality, sanitation or historical practices like suttee.

Those are (I presume) referring to instances where the colonised were 'bad', and the colonisers have done 'good' (to put it in simplistic terms). I agree that there are such instances! There are also instances where the colonised were 'good', and the colonisers have done 'bad'. Or, if the presence of any 'bad'ness is enough to lead one to be an appropriate target for colonisation, there are also instances where the colonisers' civilisation was 'bad'. How many of each? Well, obviously my position is that colonisers overall do much more harm than good. Maybe that's not true, but you won't disprove it by mentioning a couple of good things that they've done.

(There are also instances where keepers of slaves have done good, but that doesn't mean we condone slavery.)


Simplistic terms don't advance your point. If you do have a point oversimplification only obscures it. Imperialism is neither good nor bad. Only specific acts and actors can be judged as such.

The British empire could be credited for ending slavery. It is the promulgation of liberal western values allows us the context to condemn the barbarity of the past.

History is a process. It seems nonsensical to presume to judge the pioneers of our civilization (by modern standards) while enjoying the benefits they provided.

The popular view of western guilt smacks of condescending nobelesse oblige. At what point does it become purely selfish? Decolonized regions won't put the past behind them as long as they are incentivized not to.

"...detractors of Western imperialism hijack the ideas of Western civilization and crash them into a ditch."

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/is-the-brit...

This article made me think of your comment.


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Why is it just women that are surprised?


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Have you ever thought about what it is, exactly, you are doing here?


If you keep asking they might cave in and say yes?


The main problem here is one of incentive. Of course the researchers, university departments, contractors, etc want to build it. But who benefits? A very small number of people. All the locals get is: more traffic, more pollution, more waste, all of which are a direct result of the construction itself plus the increase in visitors. Plus, the locals feel this is imposing on their scared grounds. Again, without ANY benefit to them.

I talked to one person at the protests, who said "The researchers don't want light pollution. We don't want telescope pollution."


Again, without ANY benefit to them.

There is a large benefit to the locals in terms of jobs both during construction and after. Yes, the researchers are not local, but the engineers, technicians, maintenance staff, and so on usually are. Astronomy is the second largest contributor to the economy on the Big Island (after tourism).


It also significantly diversifies the economy. Tourism is cyclical. Astronomy research may have booms and busts too, but they are apt to be uncorrelated with the ups and downs of tourism.


This is quite literally the best place to study stars in the whole world. Economically sure, not a lot of people may benefit, but scientific knowledge the whole world benefits


It could be a major source of pride. Having lived on Hawaii for a few years... there is not a lot going on. Tourism is by far the biggest employer and focus of development, with agriculture far behind. Hosting such an important scientific endeavor is a major achievement.

I appreciate and empathize with the Hawaiians who see this project as a focal point of resisting so many offenses. It's also sad that such a great project (peering into the origins of the universe!) can't find a home there.


The all mankind benefits from increasing our knowledge about the universe.




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