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China Building World's Biggest Radio Telescope

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the bigger-and-better dept.

China 121

Zothecula writes "Since its completion in 1963, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, with a diameter of 305 m (1,000 ft) and a collecting area of 73,000 square meters (790,000 sq ft), has been the largest single-aperture radio telescope ever constructed. But Arecibo is set to lose its title with construction now underway in Guizhou Province in southern China of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). Upon its expected completion in 2016, FAST will be able to see more than three times further into space and survey the skies ten times faster than Arecibo."

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121 comments

Wow (-1, Troll)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463594)

So fucking what!!!! Apparently you are all NIGGERS!!!!

Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463612)

What if a bunch of aliens in Alpha Centauri start talking about freedom, democracy, or the Jasmine Revolution.

How is china supposed to censor free speach _in space_ ?

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464056)

What if a bunch of aliens in Alpha Centauri start talking about freedom, democracy, or the Jasmine Revolution.

How is china supposed to censor free speach _in space_ ?

Why are you trying so desperately to turn any discussion about China into a political one?

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (2)

the_hellspawn (908071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464324)

Because it is the fucking elephant in the room!

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465776)

What's an elephant doing that deep in space? I know NASA launched monkeys and Russia sent up some dogs, but is there something else we should know?

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467314)

How else do you expect NASA to test its heavy lift capacity?

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36467838)

your mom would give NASA's heavy lift rocket a run for it's money... of course she's so fat, she eats Wheat Thicks and she's so fat, she went to the movies the other day, and sat next to everyone!

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468680)

But... but... if you lift four elephants at the same time, the Earth will fall off the back of the turtle!

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465902)

It's fundamentally not the elephant in the room. An "elephant in the room" is an obvious issue that no-one talks about. The difficulty is in having a single god damn conversation about anything that happens in a country containing 1.3 billion people without it turning into the exact same discussion. Yes China can be a very nasty place in terms of censorship, and yes every single reader of Slashdot knows that. Do we need to hammer it home again?

Can't we talk about astronomy, and how cool it is that a new record-breaking observatory is getting built?

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (3)

the gnat (153162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465214)

Why are you trying so desperately to turn any discussion about China into a political one?

Well, why not? Every discussion about the US turns into a long list of complaints about how either a) America sucks and has always sucked, or b) America is giving up its superpower status to the Chinese.

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465474)

Encase the entire nation in a Faraday cage. Think of the jobs it will create!

But anyway, wouldn't an array of smaller, semi-mass produced scopes be better?

Re:Going to be tricky to censor the aliens (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468554)

Wtf is 'speach'? You really should go back to school.

el RADAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463678)

Contact.

Re:el RADAR (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464276)

space NAZIs, I hate Illinois space NAZIs...

Pictures of construction site (-1)

dotsandot1 (2265926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463698)

Its sure is big [aeonity.com]

Re:Pictures of construction site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463734)

get fucked

Re:Pictures of construction site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463754)

WARNING! Above link is not something anyone wants to see!

Re:Pictures of construction site (1)

Jumpin' Jon (731892) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463790)

After all these years, I finally fell for it. Just off to bleach my eyes.. thanks for that.

Re:Pictures of construction site (0)

astrodotfan1 (2273900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464098)

Thanks for telling me.
Thank you very much for the food.
My troll food list getting too long. thanks to all slashdotters!

Funny:
"Link above is to goatse. Fuck you douchebag."
"After all these years, I finally fell for it. Just off to bleach my eyes.. thanks for that."
"Turn on TinyUrl previews. It saves lives."
"Ugh. Goatse. NSFW. Asshole (poster and picture, both)."
"Seriously ... new account to post that ... what a douche!"
"You're a fucking douchbag." - "That is the most accurate comment yet"
"Not gonna click it to find out, but I'd be surprised if parent's link wasn't goatse... It appears you would be correct sir. Why oh why do I always forget.."
"My word, what is wrong with your anus? I'd get that checked out."
"Damnit! nearly 15 years reading /. and I still fall in a goatse.cx trap !"
"It's because of Assholes like you that I can no longer trust URL shorteners"
"Didn't click it, but the magic 8-ball says goatse."
"Would advise against clicking the link in the troll post above. Especially if you're at work atm."
"Thanks, I'm reading slashdot in class like a good student and just got tubgirl'd."
"Watching second monitor, there was something wrong with the other screen. Control + w. Phew..."
"Hey family! Come look! They're opening the Google Talk client! Now, click here......" (sees goatse)
"I tried to post warnings about the goaste loving jerk yesterday but was modded into oblivion as a karma whore"
"Posting your picture online again?", "Really? Are you not tired of this yet?"
"High likelyhood of being a Goatse link. Proceed with caution"
(Me posts goatse link and tells it is SFW): "You mean NSFW asshole."
"Can you not afford normal entertainment?"
"This is grown up talk, 4chan is that way ->"
"One of these days, this asshole gonna have a hard drive crash and lose his precious list, consigning his life's work to oblivion. He'll probably kill himself."

Hate:
"Death to all assholes - Let's put you first into the guillotine"
"You fucker" - "I had the same thought as you. What a fucking asshole. The link is nsfw."
"Motherfucker. Some of us are at work and don't want to have a drilled out anus pop up on their fucking screen. Christ."
"I hate your guts.", "WTF you fucking asshole.", "Fucking troll, do not click there"
"I hope you die in a fire before you are old enough to contaminate the gene pool."
"It would be more interesting if I had a piece of pipe and your face, in close proximity so I could smash your face beyond recognition,"
"Bravo teeny bopper. You're a really mature mother fucker (or do you prefer father fucking? Damn you homo erotic shittter)."
"Wait! I think I hear your mommy calling to give your tongue a good soap washing. And maybe she'll execute you too"
"I did not even bother to look, but this same idiot has been doing this for weeks now. Fuck off asshole."
"Asshole. literally. Goatse is so old. Grow up you fool."
"Asshole... Ginormous asshole, in fact."
"Ugh. Goatse. You asshole."
"Better than you, you arse bandit."
"You're a lowlife faggot piece of shit."
"Ah, a sheep troll. "Baaa! I post disgusting photos! Baaa!"

Dumbassess talking:
"Hey moron, try using different links."
"You fucking piece of shit!" , "You sorry piece of shit.", "You cunt.", "Fuck you." "Get fucked"
"What a retard..... enough said...."
"Yup, this is what your life amounted to. Posting goatse on Slashdot and collecting comment trophies."

Strong emotion:
"FUCK.YOU.ASS.HOLE."
"i WAS eating lunch you ass!"
"Oh dear god my eyes. Haven't seen THAT awful image in a while."
"My eyes are burning... argh! Damn you!"
"MY EYES... dude i am at work here "S "
"WARNING: Don't click on the parent's link! Damn goatse! The first I experienced, no less.
"Oh goddammit. I didn't need that right before bed."
"Goatse warning! I'm still recovering."
"Please friends, I beg of you, do not click that link! Do not look at that image, whatever you do! It is a bad image! It is a goatse image."

Frustration:
"Can someone make a fucking goatse blocker firefox plugin please? This is pissing me off now."
"I am sick and tired of that crap on /. "
"Don't visit the link above, everyone. -sigh- Especially at work."
"Doh! One has to also recognize data urls. *sigh*"
"Damn! Mod this fucker to hell"
"*sigh* Goatse alert..."

Philosophy:
"Goatse trolls are getting better these days..."
"Why the sudden coordinated campaign for Goatse? Is someone making money off this?"
"You're right, this is the most coordinated troll campaign in a long time. Multiple accounts, multiple pages."
"Urgh...dammit, am I the only one thinking the goatse trolls are getting worse lately than they have been in the past five years?"
"Who found a way to monetize goatse at this late date? If we got half the effort of that campaign on real stuff we'd all have better software by now."
"Boy Goatsex is out in force today... - Every topic is littered with them..."
"You can't actually expect the Slashdot users to actually know enough not to respond to a goatse troll, right ?"
"Can we start banning people who post that hiding it behind a url shortening link like goo.gl?"
"How many times are you going to spam this link? Like we don't know where that goes......"

Admiration:
"Giggles. That made my day. Thank you."
"You are one dedicated troll."
"Well played, sir. Well played."
"A link that redirects to a page containing goatse? How clever of you!"
"Congrats. It's been a long time since I saw goatse."
"Thank you for that informational link"
"Interesting use of Data URLs for Goatse linking."
"Well played, sir. It's been a while since I've been Goatse'd"

Misc:
"That's somewhat clever, but some of us do know what base-64 encoding is."
"Nice. Asshole."
"Long time since I've been rickrolled with goatse!"
"Goatse URL - Haven't seen that guy in a while"
"The fuck is a goatse? it's some dude pulling his arse open."
"Could not someone at slashdot write a small script to blacklist url's that have been flagged troll? I'll do it if you pay me a slave wage..."
"Parent should be modded down. Link is NSFW and mentally scarring."
"Just post the damn url, i'm not going to click on a tinyurl link and get goatse'd or something.."
"Someone please mod this guy down... Don't click his link."
"Mod to -1, please. this guy is an 'asshole'.... (yes, you guessed it)"
"Don't click the link! Goatse wannabe."
"Danger, goatse"
"WARNING! Above link is not something anyone wants to see!"

Re:Pictures of construction site (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467432)

Waa, I hate those that comment on trolls

Do you think anyone cares?

Re:Pictures of construction site (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463840)

Thank god the page took its time to load. I was able to close the tab before any disgusting picture showed.

Re:Pictures of construction site (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463848)

Ah, a sheep troll. "Baaa! I post disgusting photos! Baaa!"

Re:Pictures of construction site (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465658)

Well, well... you replying to a goatse troll in the context of your sig had certain images coming up. You excuse me while I go for the brain bleach, yes?

Acronym (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463716)

What does that acronym stand for in Chinese?

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463772)

salkfjiengakluql;amdcn

Re:Acronym (1)

urusan (1755332) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463918)

I dunno, but in English they nearly named it FART: Five-hundred-meter Aperture spherical Radio Telescope

Re:Acronym (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465698)

How far can it "see" in terms of a distance we all can understand? For example, how many football fields, lined up end-to-end, could it see?

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36466190)

It is a ludicrous number of football fields.

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36467832)

In fact, it's gone plaid.

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463938)

F*@? American Science & Technology?

In what way is this better ... (2)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463844)

than the trend towards arrays of radio telescopes? Is this just for bragging rights or are they interested in really pushing the bounds of what the technology can do?

Re:In what way is this better ... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463894)

Never having to wonder if you're creating problems or false data when you put everything together has to be worth something. Labor is cheap there (as they can always just criminalize something or more to the point, enforce some of the existing laws to produce a labor pool) and so is space since you don't get paid off for eminent domain even as well as you do here.

Re:In what way is this better ... (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464508)

For a given surface area, an array is better at looking with high angular resolution. So for mapping a small region, or determining the proper motion of a pulsar, an array is good. But if you want to search the whole sky for pulsars (for example), a single dish of the same area is better because it has a wider field of view with full sensitivity.

So in general, single dish telescopes are better for surveying the sky, arrays are better at observing known sources/objects with high resolution and sensitivity

My understanding was that the initial Chinese plan was to build four of these telescopes to use as an array (it was their SKA proposal), which would give it the advantages of both an array and large dishes. I don't know whether the subsequent telescopes will be built.

Re:In what way is this better ... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465866)

Single dish should also give a clearer image for the same surface area (less edge, less perimeter you need to seal against terrestrial radio inteference, fewer timing problems since you're not using interferometry). The problem with single dish is steering. Aricebo is fixed for a reason. The telescope at Jodrel Bank observatory, although not the largest steerable dish, is one of the larger steerable telescopes and the infrastructure needed is absolutely staggering.

Re:In what way is this better ... (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467464)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodrell_Bank_Observatory [wikipedia.org]

Holy crap that thing is big.

Re:In what way is this better ... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468658)

Big and hard to maintain [man.ac.uk] . :) This is a map of the distortions that resulted [man.ac.uk] , generated apparently using some form of holographic technique [man.ac.uk] . The quality has greatly improved since the resurfacing, allowing for a much greater range of frequencies to be observed.

For those interested in stats, here's the facts and figures [man.ac.uk] for the telescope. If you're not interested in clicking through, the numbers that matter are that the dish is 76.2 meters in diameter and weighs 3,200 metric tonnes. It's also the third-largest steerable dish. The Chinese proposal isn't truly a steerable telescope - you can do the maths to work out how heavy a 500 meter steerable monster would be - but would be able to see outside the strict limit of vertically above since it will be distortable.

However, for precisely the same reason Jodrell Bank's telescope needed resurfacing, the distortions in the Chinese telescope have to be very carefully controlled and the quality of every mirror needs to be amazing. Imperfections will result in the telescope being useless at shorter frequencies which is where it wants to be.

Re:In what way is this better ... (1)

ChatHuant (801522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468706)

than the trend towards arrays of radio telescopes?

Different strengths and weaknesses. With an array, you do interferometry, and can get very high angular resolution (the capability to distinguish between very close but separate sources). Look up aperture synthesis [wikipedia.org] for more detail. If the source is bright enough, it's as if you had a virtual antenna with a diameter equal to the baseline (the distance between the individual antennas in the array). You can easily have individual antennas in the array positioned tens of kilometers apart, while a single antenna of the same diameter is clearly unpractical.

On the other hand, the sensitivity (capability to see very dim sources) is proportional to the actual surface of the antenna (a bigger antenna can collect more energy). That's where single aperture telescopes like the one in Arecibo, and the new FAST really outperform arrays.

It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (4, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463846)

Given the 5 to 3 ratio in apertures between the two telescopes, I think that it will be able to "peer" (25/9)^0.5 = 5/3 = 1.67 times "further into space," where "peer" means resolve an object at a given signal to noise ratio. Collected light scales with the square of aperture, but signal to noise ratio only improves with the square root of the number of collected photons. In more useful terms, it should be able to resolve the same thing to the same statistical certainty in 3/5 of the time.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464752)

I don't think that photon counts are the dominant noise factor. I believe its thermal receiver noise predominantly, so uncertainties are proportional to the thermal noise divided by the square of the area.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464776)

Sorry, square of the diameter. Need more caffeine.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465732)

I have no clue about astronomy tech, but in NMR spectroscopy, we usually cool down our high end receiver coils in liquid nitrogen to get rid of some of the thermal noise, and try to get the shortest signal path to the pre-amp possible. I'd be surprised if radioastronomers wouldn't use cryocoil setups in their receivers, too, so maybe the diameter still would be the dominant factor for sensitivity here? Feel free to correct me - it's not my field of experience.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466932)

Diameter does matter, it's just that counting statistics aren't the main noise source. Radio photos are so unenergetic that any detection is billions of photons. The receivers are LN2 cooled, and you can get L-band (1.4GHz) system temperatures (the sum of all the noise processes) down to around 25K. The external noise sources add to that. The microwave background is 3K. Atmospheric noise is about 1K. Galactic noise can be significantly higher than that (10s to 100s of K), especially if you're looking in the plane of the galaxy. IIRC, photon shot noise is microkelvins.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467224)

Thanks for the info. It seems quite similar to NMR then, regarding the signal to noise problem - we are dealing with population differences of 999.999 to 1.000.000 between ground states and excited states here. At least we can exclude most of the external noise, though...

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465268)

We in the spectral-line radio astronomy world make graphs, each a fuzzy horizontal line with a vertical spike in the middle, representing a spectral line of a molecule. The height of the spike relative to the fuzz on the baseline is that signal-to-noise ratio you're talking about, and it can be on the order of .01% signal/noise. But the telescope integrates that signal (signal+noise minus noise only) over a long time period, resulting in the ability to see a spike at all. As you say, the longer you look at the object, the smaller the fuzz gets. An aperture ratio of 5/3 between telescopes is not amazing, but it does give bragging rights to the Chinese, if it works and doesn't run out of funding.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465970)

That's long baseline radio astronony, which would be useless for things like pulsars (there's not a pulsar slow enough to observe the pulses with long baseline) and of questionable value for extrasolar planets close to their sun (the orbit will result in the aggregate signal being worse) but it's great for observing stars, nebulae, gas clouds and 95% of the stuff radio astronomers get excited over.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36465804)

That's all fine and Dandy, but I think when we see our own satellites and everything else crashing down on our heads because of a group of evil Chinese scientists acting with immunity and destroying everything in sight with a particle beam synced with this aparatus, we are going to be shouting something a bit more solidified than, "Oh, F.A.R.T."..

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465916)

There are all kinds of factors. Imperfections in the dish, for example, will reduce the useful photons collected and increase the noise. Since materials expand and contract with change in temperature, such imperfections will vary with time.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (3, Informative)

asvravi (1236558) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467310)

Photons? For a RADIO telescope?? Yes, quite a while since your astro classes.

The SNR you quote, which improves as square root of the collected radiation (radio waves), is voltage SNR. In terms of power, you still get a 9dB SNR improvement for 3 times the collected radio waves, and in these electronics, it is electric power which is the ultimately used. However, the improvement factor should again be raised to power 1/3 to get distance, since the amount of signal power collected by an aperture, after spherical dispersion from a star, drops as the third power of the star's distance. So.. (25/9)^(1/3) = 1.4 times.

Re:It's been awhile since astro classes, but... (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468616)

Perhaps that would hold true is this were not a radio telescope that we are talking about.

Pictures of the construction site (-1, Troll)

astrodotfan (2273874) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463864)

Its sure is big [thoughts.com]

Re:Pictures of the construction site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36463904)

Link above is to goatse. Fuck you douchebag.

Consequences (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463888)

More radio telescopes are generally a good thing. One of the major tensions in the field now is whether one should have large radio telescopes or lots of comparatively smaller ones that coordinate their work. Both methods have different advantages. Lots of smaller telescopes linked has the major advantage that if some of them go down for some reason one can still do good science. However, the larger ones can have lots of neat technologies. As TFA discusses, this telescope (FAST) will be able to deform its mirrors in real time to focus on sources. That will help a lot for work on faint radio sources.

However, I'm not sure that this is the best use of resources. As discussed in TFA, the Square Kilometre array is being built by a variety of countries working together, and it will do a lot of the same stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_Kilometre_Array [wikipedia.org] However, the SKA and FAST will be looking at different regions of the sky, and where they do overlap will be looking at different times. So overall this is helpful. Personally, if I were going to be putting this much resources into interesting Earth-based astronomy, I'd probably want to focus more on increasing our neutrino detectors. We're not investing very much in that, and it is a very new, very interesting field of astronomy/astrophysics. Moreover, neutrino astronomy is pretty much the only thing that can give us warning (albeit only a few hours) if a nasty supernova happens in our vicinity. Right now, that doesn't look likely, but it would be nice to have some warning in case our models are off. Moreover, even without a threat issue, since neutrinos can arrive before the light from a supernova (since the neutrino burst occurs before most of what we would call a supernova, and neutrinos travel at very close to the speed of light), they can help us point our optical and X-ray telescopes in the right regions before we the light reaches us, which is really helpful for advancing our understanding of such events.

Overall though, shouldn't be complaining. It is very difficult to get almost any good funding now for astronomy and cosmology research. In that regard, this is a good thing.

Re:Consequences (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464204)

I don't there will be any overlaps. The more dishes the better (think SETI for example). FAST is contributing to the SKA project - scientists and engineers co-operate. The foundation of FAST design was crafted in co-operation with Arebico.

Re:Consequences (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466808)

I don't there will be any overlaps.

I think that you a verb.

Re:Consequences (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467540)

Was probably that spellcheck failed. My read was: I doubt there will be any overlaps

Re:Consequences (3)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466014)

Overlap is actually a good thing, since observations that can only be repeated on the same instrument or same class of instrument cannot be definitely attributed to a cosmological source - it could be explained equally well as a flaw in the design of the instrument. Having two entire classes of radio observatory being able to validate each other will permit testing and validating of the devices.

SETI (2)

nozzo (851371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463912)

yay! more data for the SETI mesh to chew on.

Re:SETI (3)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464870)

Not sure if I'm supposed to mention it, but a couple members of the SETI@home team visited the site about a month ago.

Hmmm... (2, Funny)

TheAngryMob (49125) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463924)

Trying to steal intellectual property from alien lifeforms. Clever, clever bastards.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464422)

Well it worked so well in the US! Oh, and it worked well for China too! (Gotcha!) I could see this as a title of a very nice science fiction novel: "Things the Space Aliens told me, even though I was afraid to ask."

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467552)

You didn't think area 51 was about the aliens did you? It was all about studying their tech. How else would tech have advanced so quickly since then?

'Build it Bigger' indeed (0)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463940)

I really wonder who China's trying to impress with all this. I can only hope no one. There's more than one reason the radio telescope race ended in the 1960's; but it's primarily because no one cares anymore.
Maybe they have a use for the telescope, but it doubt it. Instead, it seems they're just trying to waive a penis around because they can instead of doing anything useful....

More like, what military objective does this gain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464010)

If one thinks about it, this is almost likely something for a military objective with maybe some civilian use as an excuse for it being built.

A couple things that come to mind are tracking deep space satellites or maybe even using the radio as a transmitter in order to create fake broadcasts and fool sensors other places.

Re:More like, what military objective does this ga (2)

Maeslin (1739760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466832)

well... really damn big variable-geometry parabolic dish + high-output magnetron = enemy satellites go boom. Why need a radio transmitter or fancy expensive satellite-killer missiles when you can just fry the enemy sats from the comfort of groundlevel?

Re:More like, what military objective does this ga (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 3 years ago | (#36467190)

By 'think', you mean 'leap immediately to a prejudice driven stance', right?

Re:'Build it Bigger' indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464878)

You mad bro?

Re:'Build it Bigger' indeed (2)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466006)

Actually they've got so many big projects going that they're waving their scientific instrumentation dick around and building important and useful infrastructure projects at the same time.

Re:'Build it Bigger' indeed (4, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466208)

I dunno. The politics over SKA, where it would be located, etc, show that people do indeed care. Nobody can put a telescope even the size of the Lovell dish into space, never mind the size of this monster. Single dishes have benefits (such as reduced edge effects) that arrays do not, which is extremely important for some of the science needed. Radio telescopes are still the only systems you can build large interferometers from (you can do small optical interferometers, but that's it). RFI is an increasing problem for radio observatories, due to flagrant abuse of the spectrum by many nations, and it's much easier to shield one site than a hundred. Precision-engineering a single dish of this size will require advances in material science that will have spin-off benefits in other fields.

In short, there's lots of reasons for them to do this and no obvious reason for them to copy SKA or SHA.

Size (1)

UninformedCoward (1738488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463988)

I was at the Arecibo telescope last month and after seeing it in person I think it is no surprise China is building a larger one. 1000ft seems pretty small when standing on the dish.

Re:Size (2)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466288)

Worse, Arecibo is deformed, requiring complex hardware to compensate. There's bound to be some loss of quality when trying to compensate. Also, it's an old telescope now. There have even been plans to shut it down, which would likely go through if presented to Congress today. If China had a rival, even if only of equal size, astronomers needing a single dish rather than an interferometer would have no alternative but to buy telescope time from them.

Mister President! (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463990)

We CANNOT have a Telescope Gap! /with apologies to George C. Scott

Pictures of the construction site (-1, Troll)

astrodotfan1 (2273900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36463996)

Its sure is big [aeonity.com]

Chinese obsession with size (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464014)

Boy am I tired of the Chinese obsession with size. Everything has to be either the biggest, or the smallest. Think of all the recent headlines along the lines of "China building largest intercontinental rail" or "China building worlds smallest computer chip" or "China building the largest solar power plant" or "China has the smallest currency value" or the largest GDP or the most number of university graduates or the smallest standard of living... why not give other countries a chance?

Re:Chinese obsession with size (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464154)

Nothing's keeping other countries from making advances of their own, except their own stupidity, short-sightedness, and greed. If you want to do something great, then go do it instead of wasting your money on stupid wars and corporate welfare.

Re:Chinese obsession with size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36465040)

China's rail system is already broke even with completely full trains.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chinas-train-wreck/2011/04/21/AFqjRWRE_story.html

Don't believe most of the hype from China. It's deeply rooted in their culture to only show the best side of things. They keep their largest cities all sparkly when in reality it's all paid for with borrowed money(or paid off of the backs of the poor). They are broke just like the rest of world. Every year it's something new on a massive scale, coal shortages, electricity shortages, food shortages, on and on.

The hundreds of millions that go hungry every year will eventually say, "We've had enough!".

Re:Chinese obsession with size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36467318)

Sooo, China's external debt is what, 7% of GDP? Vs the US's 97%? The only way you can argue China has a big borrowing problem is if you inflate the figures by including money different branches of the government owns to itself.

What a FUCKING STUPID name. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464018)

"Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope"? "FAST"?

First of all, it's a Chinese telescope and its name is an English acronym. How fucking stupid is that? And "Five-hundred-meter"? Since when is the first letter of a NUMBER (spelled out in words) significant for the purposes of an acronym? Stupid. And "radio" apparently isn't important enough to be represented in the acronym either. Last (but not least), it isn't even fucking spherical, it's parabolic (like ANY OTHER radio telescope).

Fucking stupid on so many levels. What is this I don't even...

Re:What a FUCKING STUPID name. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464096)

"Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope"? "FAST"?

First of all, it's a Chinese telescope and its name is an English acronym. How fucking stupid is that? And "Five-hundred-meter"? Since when is the first letter of a NUMBER (spelled out in words) significant for the purposes of an acronym? Stupid. And "radio" apparently isn't important enough to be represented in the acronym either. Last (but not least), it isn't even fucking spherical, it's parabolic (like ANY OTHER radio telescope).

Fucking stupid on so many levels. What is this I don't even...

Wonderful. An acronym Nazi.

Re:What a FUCKING STUPID name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464486)

Shut up and DIE.

Re: acronym Nazi (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465082)

Yeah -- and an incorrect one, at that. Not all radio telescopes are parabolic. Arecibo, for instance, is spherical. The original paper [arxiv.org] even notes, "FAST is an Arecibo-type spherical telescope" (p. 3).

Re: acronym Nazi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36466388)

Yeah -- and an incorrect one, at that.

NO U. It WILL be a paraboloid. From TFA:

Unlike Arecibo, which has a fixed spherical curvature focusing radio waves into a line above the dish where they are focused to a single point by more mirrors, FAST's cable-net supporting structure will be able to deform the surface in real time through active control. As PopSci explains, this will allow a subset dish's 4,400 triangular aluminum panels to form a parabolic mirror anywhere within the larger bowl that is nearly the size of the entire Arecibo dish.

Or if you prefer the PDF:

As a huge scientific device, the supporting structure of the radio telescope FAST demands special requirements beyond those of conventional structures. The most prominent one is that the supporting structure should enable the surface formation of a paraboloid from a sphere in real time through active control.

what they really mean is : (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464162)

We want to buird wold's biggest ladio terescope !

Great! (1)

dismorphic (730041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464166)

Now we'll have to buy 10x more hardware to keep up in SETI@Home. We'll never finish!

It's good to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464192)

that despite the libertarian prejudice against pure science without a clear short-term monetary or military payoff that is infecting our nation, science will still get done. It's a real shame that China will reap any scientific and technical benefit long before the US does, but then, the dogma of venality as virtue is driving us into decline anyway - perhaps we are not the best stewards for scientific advancement after all.

I wish we still had the drive, the ambition and the confidence to do big science any more. Hell we've become so small minded and venal that we are ignoring existing infrastructure and are afraid to invest in tech that might make us an independent nation again, rather than an oil-addicted loudmouth.

Re:It's good to see (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465426)

What do consider Big Science? Getting a better picture of the universe can be a good thing but it doesn't really contribute much to day to day life but people are still funding, building, operating, and sharing observatories, particle accelerators, solar test farms, and other large scale research level projects for pure academic and scientific study. I think it is amazing that there are still people who fund these types of programs without ever expecting a return on their investments in their life time. In today's dog eat dog world these types of people are getting harder to find. To me Big Science today should concentrate on alternative energy science and bio-medical research. Big Science applies to the military who have been pushing the limit of technology forward for the last 2000 years. While the general public makes do with incremental advancements in computer technology focused on generating more sales the military often jumps ahead with radical new methods and technology without needing to worry about backwards capadibility concerns and often not needing to worry about funding from our generous and duplitious politicians. While normal people are debating the finer points of game controllers and cpu architecture the military is using holographic heads up targeting technology to aim and fire missles just by blinking your eyes while flying at mach 2 and simulataneous monitoring up to 100 potential threats in the air and on the ground in real time.

Re:It's good to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36466004)

"people are still funding, building, operating, and sharing observatories, particle accelerators", solar test farms, and other large scale research level projects for pure academic and scientific study. I think it is amazing that there are still people who fund these types of programs without ever expecting a return on their investments in their life time. "

Those that are still operated are operated in the face of the rising opposition to anything that doesn't make a quick buck. As that opposition rises, America declines.

"Big Science today should concentrate on alternative energy science"

I actually agree - strategic needs for the nation dictate this, yet the conservatives consider anything 'renewable' to be 'lefty science' that should never ever be funded. Again, part of the decline of America. Even so, that is science meant to show a monetary return, to make a profit. NOT 'pure science'. Knowledge for knowledge's sake is something indulged in by 'leftists' and to be despised. The rise of the right is directly proportional to the decline of America. To be a conservative is to spend less, since the goal is now to go as far right as possible, nothing will be spent, and advancement will essentially halt. Oh, you might get quantitative advances, but qualitative? Not in a conservative playbook; the appearance of genuinely new things can't be planned.

"the military often jumps ahead with radical new methods"

Do they? When it's not funded and mandated? The military does NOT like disruptive tech. What was the last new scientific principle the military industrial complex came up with? Selling incremental improvements now, there is where the dollars are. Adapting existing tech? Even better - less risk of failure.

Re:It's good to see (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468088)

Believe it or not but not everything needs to devolve into political idealology pissing matches. The rise of the right causing the decline of the US science is a political slogan not a fact. Both the left and the right have their heads up their asses when it comes to anything these days let alone science. Judging by your comments you sound like one of those idealogy blinded neophytes who do nothing but moan about the future and get in the way of people trying to actually live a life instead of just endlessly complaining about it and then blaming others for your problems. There is no doubt that there are instances where budgets get smaller due to swings in the economy but it is usually cyclical in nature and doesn't warrant a blanket denounciation of the whole idea. For thing like the particle accelerators and observational arrays someone is footing the bill without looking to make a return an investment. I mean particle accelerators are nice big toys but they don't really contribute anything yet except for proving or disproving someones idea on how the universe is built but someone got the funding. They probably played the left and right against one another using the God particle as the reason they needed the money. The right was hoping they would find the god particle and the left was hoping they didn't and they got funding from both sides. If you want a Pure or Big Science discussion I am afraid your going to have to be a little more specific. Science and technology levels are usually advanced by necessity. The military industrial complex is the most well funded part of the government. I don't know if they have discovered any ground breaking scientific principle lately but they have sure been applying the ones we have. Just a few things the military has contributed to science and technology over the years: nuclear technology for both weapons and power, computing technology on several levels including the little Darpa project now known as the Internet. Orbital satellite applications for real life uses like GPS based guidance and navigation systems, all types of applied electomagnetic spectrum manipulation. Material science used in the stealth projects. The companies providing all of this are for the most part private and public corporations contracted to the governments military and with most of the scientists invloved in this type of work educated and doing their research in this country. To the military "disruptive tech" just means anything more than 5 years old. Also for every successful project or technology application there were probably several different attempts made at solving the same problems which fed research groups the funding to meet the demands.

Re:It's good to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36468588)

"Believe it or not but not everything needs to devolve into political idealology pissing matches."

A true statement, but not applicable here. Unless there is an economic payout, the right is NOT interested. It's what they are doing right now.

"Both the left and the right have their heads up their asses when it comes to anything"

False equivalence.

"Judging by your comments you sound like one of those idealogy blinded neophytes who do nothing but moan about the future and get in the way of people trying to actually live a life instead of just endlessly complaining about it and then blaming others for your problems"

What an imagination you have! In fact, I'm that vanishing breed, a moderate. The left can't pay for everything, we'd end up like Greece. The right in it's current, crazy form is not a good answer to our economic woes either. Libertarianism never has worked for the overwhelming majority, and it is trivial to show it can't. It's the 'one true scotsman' of economic dogma. Free markets work, when sufficiently regulated. When insufficiently regulated, the people and the nation suffer. Moderate.

"For thing like the particle accelerators and observational arrays someone is footing the bill without looking to make a return an investment. I mean particle accelerators are nice big toys but they don't really contribute anything yet except for proving or disproving someones idea on how the universe is built but someone got the funding."

I kind of figured you were a righty from the lack of punctuation, but that clinched it. You are against knowledge for it's own sake, and against the advancement of science unless it pays for itself - and in order to feel happy about 'footing the bill' you need to know what you are going to get out of it, right?

"Science and technology levels are usually advanced by necessity"

Really? Citation, please. Scientific advances are DEPLOYED (after having been made by scientists previously) by engineers in response to necessity.

"The military industrial complex is the most well funded part of the government."

It's not part of the government.

"I don't know if they have discovered any ground breaking scientific principle lately"

Umm I didn't say 'lately'

"nuclear technology for both weapons and power"

And the principles of 'nuclear science' were not developed by the military or the military industrial complex. The military made great advances in how to apply principles, yes; it made it easier for later scientists, yes; but you are simply reinforcing my argument.

"The companies providing all of this are for the most part private and public corporations contracted to the governments military and with most of the scientists invloved in this type of work educated and doing their research in this country."

That IS the military industrial complex. Do try and keep up.

"To the military "disruptive tech" just means anything more than 5 years old"

That doesn't even make sense.

"computing technology on several levels including the little Darpa project now known as the Internet."

Again, it's a brilliant application of known science. A quantitative advance, not qualitative.

"but they have sure been applying the ones we have"

Uh huh. As I said. You sure want me to be panning the military, don't you! What next, you think I hate engineers because they aren't scientists, even though they make use of scientific discoveries?

Pure science doesn't even HAVE to be expensive, but you guys think paying a guy to sit around and think, without a guarantee of producing an invention or profit of some kind, is some kind of socialism. And so, qualitative advancements cease in the US, and we fall further into decline.

You can't use oddjob. That's cheating! (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36464228)

the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

What the heck is that?

*googles it*

Ohhhh, why didn't you just say "the dish thingy from GoldenEye"?

Re:You can't use oddjob. That's cheating! (1)

Groghunter (932096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36468878)

no it was "the dish thingy from X-Files." GET IT RIGHT!

Bigger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36464352)

Hey, I wonder if they're trying to compensate for something?

FWIW, they're wasting their time, because it'll be trounced in a few years by the SKA.

Could some radio astronomer clue me in? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465098)

I always thought that in radio astronomy you can accomplish more by a lot of small radar dishes linked up than with one single huge one? Wasn't there at some point a plan to send a bunch of sats up that would fly in formation to form a friggin' HUGE (read: several thousand miles) array for radioastronomy?

Re:Could some radio astronomer clue me in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36467324)

Widely separated dishes give you a bigger effective aperture, which means better resolution. A bigger dish collects more photons, which means better sensitivity (and better resolution than a small dish). Both are good for different reasons.

Headstart (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465172)

Upon its expected completion in 2016, FAST will be able to see more than three times further into space and survey the skies ten times faster than Arecibo.

Good thing that Arecibo has had a 53 year headstart.

Re:Headstart (2, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465702)

I would care less about the news of a Chinese large-aperture radio telescope if Arecibo weren't constantly held under the axe of NSF funding cuts. We need at least one operating on the planet to track earth-bound asteroids, among other things, and there's no guarantee the U.S. Congress will keep ours operating.

Awesome (2)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36465746)

See, you buy stuff at WalMart, and you fund a radio telescope!

Now we know how Aperture Science started (1)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466630)

So, I guess we know how Aperture Science started now. Interesting.

Now excuse me, I have to get back to testing ...

"Flower Garden" electronic intelligence project (1)

feynmanfan1 (1803416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36466764)

Are radio astronomy dishes still used for military electronic intelligence? For example see the "Flower Garden" bi-static reflector project in the cold war. Maybe this is all done with satellites now adays but just thought I'd ask. Could the Chinese dish be targeted at this use too? See "secret history of silicon valley" for description of the "Flower Garden" project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFSPHfZQpIQ [youtube.com]

That's no moon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36468692)

Obligatory.

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