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E-Merlin "Super-Telescope" Switched On

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the ip-over-avian-carrier-would-have-been-better dept.

Space 41

Smivs writes to tell us that one of the world's most powerful telescope arrays has been switched on with great success. Seven radio telescopes in the UK have been linked with optical fiber, replacing the older microwave tech that connected them previously. One researcher compared the move to a broadband upgrade from dial-up. Research teams will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years.

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shocking (3, Funny)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#27652957)

The UK can link telescopes together with fiber but my ISP, billion dollar company, cant get me fios 5 miles south of downtown Dallas. Sigh.

Re:shocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27653095)

You are very inconsiderate of the poor ISP's business. See, they are trying to run a business and that means a lot of responsibilities. They do a LOT of things to run this business! It is very complicated. They have to take your money, AND your tax money. See it is really difficult, you should give them more credit (or money).

Re:shocking (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27653117)

No point for your area. You'll be the first on metered net service, and that'll kill the desire for a fat pipe.

Re:shocking (3, Funny)

Hmmm2000 (1146723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653159)

Simple solution, put a telescope in your back yard, and E-Merlin will hook you up with fiber asap!

Re:shocking (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653313)

I'm sure if you cough up 80 million pounds (116 million US$) like these guys did, that there would be plenty of ISPs willing to run FIOS to your home.

Re:shocking (2, Informative)

Mannerism (188292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654031)

Unfortunately, you still get 30GB bitcap.

Re:shocking (3, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653345)

To be fair it did take four years [bbc.co.uk] to connect those seven telescopes at a cost of £8.1 million [scitech.ac.uk] . Granted those figures don't really relate to laying fibre for domestic internet but needless to say it isn't a quick or a cheap endeavour.

Re:shocking (3, Funny)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653447)

Yeah, when the little guys like the UK are out-pacing billion-dollar companies, what is the world coming to?

lot-o-data (3, Insightful)

dnormant (806535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653005)

TFA doesn't mention it but I would assume they have upgraded their storage and processing power to accommodate the additional data.

Re:lot-o-data (4, Insightful)

robkill (259732) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653105)

Given the age of the older microwave links, plus the fact they were doing the processing, but were bandwidth-limited, it's probable that they've had the storage and processing power for a while, but the bandwidth infrastructure is now just catching up.

Re:lot-o-data (2, Interesting)

footnmouth (665025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653335)

the bloke in the office opposite me is a part of this. Trust me, they have the money and the track record to make sure it's done properly.

and he gets to live and work in Cornwall on big science - I hate him..... :-)

Re:lot-o-data (2, Insightful)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653701)

This strangely reminds my of something I have read in a Tanenbaum book:

Never Underestimate The Bandwidth of A Station Wagon Full Of Magnetic Tapes Hurtling Down The Highway

Re:lot-o-data (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655453)

An oldie but goodie. But the older it gets the less true it is. Compared to an ISDN line shared across an entire department? Sure. Compared to a dedicated fiber line with modern switching hardware, not so much.

Re:lot-o-data (1)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27657033)

Sure, but now you can fill the station wagon with 64GB flash drives or 2TB hard drives.

Re:lot-o-data (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27660263)

Ultimately what matters is how long it takes to get data into RAM where it will be processed, right? With a dedicated fiber line, maybe pre-staging the data onto hard drives in the computer isn't even that important anymore. Just store it somewhere safe, then access it over the network when and if you need it. I'm not even sure having a hard drive cache for the web browser is all that beneficial anymore.

Re:lot-o-data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27657803)

Compared to a flock of pigeons carrying 32GB SD cards, hardly at all.

Re:lot-o-data (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27656891)

Ah, but the latency of the station wagon for transferring, say, 5gb of data over 150kms is pretty horrible. Especially so when you're trying to coordinate observations in realtime to detect interesting events.

Re:lot-o-data (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653199)

The aliens supply that.

Seriously, that's a good question. Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope (otherwise known as the Lovell Telescope), a key part of eMerlin, was threatened with closure due to a budget shortfall for science and research. Jodrell Bank was deemed, by British ministers, to be of relatively little significance.

Given that, and given the problems with then getting everything done on time, upgrading their computer facilities might not have been so easy. Until the budget was fixed, they had nothing to buy equipment with. They were considering scrapping eMerlin altogether because they couldn't find the money to get the network in place, let alone process the data.

Buying computer equipment last-minute in a panic, especially when you've shielding constraints from hell and a lot of media visibility, is not a good idea. There's absolutely no telling if they had the cash to buy enough compute power even to record the data, let alone crunch it. We will know that when it's fully online and results start coming through.

ObTrivia: Brian May, guitarist for Queen, studied readio astronomy under Professor Lovell and may well have ended up a director for the telescope (and eMerlin) if his music hasn't, ummm, diverted his attention.

Re:lot-o-data (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27654327)

ObTrivia: Brian May, guitarist for Queen, studied readio astronomy under Professor Lovell and may well have ended up a director for the telescope (and eMerlin) if his music hasn't, ummm, diverted his attention.

Brian May never touched radio astronomy; he did his PhD research on Zodiacal light at Imperial College and was offered a postdoc position at Jodrell Bank, but other pursuits diverted him.

Re:lot-o-data (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27653573)

good god !

gotta run... :D

So... (3, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653069)

Did they find my little green friends yet? ;)

Re:So... (4, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653299)

This is Slashdot. You expect us to believe you have friends? Okay, okay. You did say "green" and not "girl", so maybe...

Re:So... (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653411)

Okay, okay. You did say "green" and not "girl", so maybe...

I believe you just clarified his "left" and his "right".

Re:So... (2, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653833)

But he didn't say "inflatable"... ^^

Re:So... (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27656903)

Or "opposable". :P

Re:So... (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653835)

but seriously it would be awesome to see what the new results look like.

Re:So... (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27657037)

No, to track them down we're going to need more power....or better yet...

...we could use a Beowulf Cluster of these!

Palimpsest (0)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653119)

Let me know when Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway & NSF Director David Drumlin need help decoding the freshly downloaded palimpsest.

That was easy (1, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653195)

Research teams will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years.

So they can do 1000 times more just by upgrading the speed of the connection between the telescopes? That's pretty remarkable, why didn't they do it earlier?

Re:That was easy (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653363)

I'm going to guess just from reading the title that they couldn't find the switch. Maybe they were too busy doing the thing that took them three years to look for it. It's great that they have an e-merlin though, now they just need an e-arthur.

Re:That was easy (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654301)

Research teams will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years. So they can do 1000 times more just by upgrading the speed of the connection between the telescopes? That's pretty remarkable, why didn't they do it earlier?

Because now they're expected to actually FIND something of significance instead of photoshopping Keeley Hazell's cleavage onto planetary nebulae.

Re:That was easy (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27657147)

..will now be able to do in one day what previously took them three years
I can sea that:
- drink 6000 cups of tea
- download all the porn
- write a 1 page report on a vague blip

Re:That was easy (1)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27663229)

Now IS earlier

Optical Fiber Is NOT for Merlin: +1, Incendiary (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27653377)

That's a smokescrean for intercepting ALL world communications with none other than the infamous
Ghostnet [slashdot.org]
run by the F.B.I. [slashdot.org] .

I hope this helps your anti-government protests.

Yours In Democracy,
Kilgore Trout

I'm holding out (2)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#27653811)

For my Smell-O-Scope!

Re:I'm holding out (1)

Ghworg (177484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655527)

or some sort of Death Clock.

3 years to do it on dial up (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654085)

A whole day on broadband... An improvement to be sure, but I think the money would have been better spent on viagra.

The question must be asked: (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654535)

Can another nekkid picture of Sarkozy's wife's ass be far "behind"?

Out of how many? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655489)

one of the world's most powerful telescope arrays

It could be one of the top ten, one of the top hundred, or one of the top in the history of ever. This phrase conveys no useful information. Please be a little more specific next time, or skip the hyperbole. As far as I know there are millions of these and this is one of them.

US NM radio telescopes mixed analog/digital (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27660627)

The US New Mexico radio telescope facility (the scene of countless scifi movies) is upgrading its current eight-band analog system to a mixed 16K band hybrid digital/analog system. The old system transmitted the analog signal via microwave pipes from up to 26 telescopes up to 8 miles apart. Then the signals were analog cross-correlated synthesized aperture to simulate a multi-mile telescope. When I visited in 2008 they said [nrao.edu] they were going to digitize the signal at the telescope, transmit it to the central computer facility, where it was converted back into analog and cross-correlated. They could capture 16K frequency bands this way. I didnt understand why they dont do the cross-correlation digitally. The highest frequency is 50 gigahertz, within the range of the fastest specialty chips.

wow (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669139)

That is, literally, really amazing.

I'm surprised there aren't more posts on this topic.  Isn't anyone interested?
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