The local papers are positively salivating at the prospect.
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?
> 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.
I believe some telescopes have been removed to make way for TMT. The Caltech Submillimetre Observatory (CSO) for one.
As it restricts access for a host of other activities for many miles around to keep light polution amd vibration to a minimum.
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.
Frankly I think this is a bunch of contrarians opposing the construction just to have something to feel self-righteous about.
> 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.
The idea of going with what the majority thinks falls apart in this context.
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.
“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.”
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 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.
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?
If your culture doesn't contribute to the advancement of humanity, but rather actively stands in the way, then it needs to die.
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.
Primary reason for 9/11, he stated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The solution to the second one is adaptive optics: 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. Like UV, X-ray, or infrared like the upcoming James Webb space telescope.
It sure is a lot cheaper to go to Mauna Kea than space though.
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.
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?
Or near Skardu, Pakistan? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skardu
On the high Tibetan plateau somewhere not very far from this airport?
Additionally, Hawaii has strict rules about light pollution, and street lights designed not to disrupt the telescopes.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The total eva time for all five servicing missions for Hubble is under 200 hours.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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".
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.
>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"?
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.
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.)
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."
This article made me think of your comment.
I talked to one person at the protests, who said "The researchers don't want light pollution. We don't want telescope pollution."
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).
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.