Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology

Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology

by W. Patrick McCray, Patrick McCray
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674011473

ISBN-13: 9780674011472

Pub. Date: 01/01/2004

Publisher: Harvard University Press

Every night, astronomers use a new generation of giant telescopes at observatories around the world to study phenomena at the forefront of science. By focusing on the history of the Gemini Observatory—twin
8-meter telescopes located on mountain peaks in Hawaii and Chile—Giant Telescopes tells the story behind the planning and construction of

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Overview

Every night, astronomers use a new generation of giant telescopes at observatories around the world to study phenomena at the forefront of science. By focusing on the history of the Gemini Observatory—twin
8-meter telescopes located on mountain peaks in Hawaii and Chile—Giant Telescopes tells the story behind the planning and construction of modern scientific tools, offering a detailed view of the technological and political transformation of astronomy in the postwar era.

Drawing on interviews with participants and archival documents, W. Patrick McCray describes the ambitions and machinations of prominent astronomers, engineers, funding patrons, and politicians in their effort to construct a modern facility for cutting-edge science—and to establish a model for international cooperation in the coming era of "megascience." His account details the technological, institutional, cultural, and financial challenges that scientists faced while planning and building a new generation of giant telescopes. Besides exploring how and why scientists embraced the promise and potential of new technologies, he considers how these new tools affected what it means to be an astronomer. McCray's book should interest anyone who desires a deeper understanding of the science, technology, and politics behind finding our place in the universe.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674011472
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/01/2004
Pages:
376
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Beautiful and Cantankerous Instruments1
1Leo and Jesse's Changing World13
2Tradition and Balance50
3Visions of Grandeur84
4Paper Telescopes114
5Growing Pains143
6Astropolitics172
7Smoke and Mirrors204
8Joining the 8-Meter Club237
9Point-and-Click Astronomy265
Conclusion: Telescopes, Postwar Science, and the Next Big Machine290
Giant Telescopes309
Sources311
Abbreviations317
Notes319
Acknowledgments357
Index359

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