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South Africa Wins Science Panel's Backing To Host SKA Telescope

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the catchy-rhythms dept.

Australia 117

ananyo writes "A scientific panel has narrowly recommended South Africa over Australia as the best site for the proposed Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an enormous US$2.1-billion radio telescope. While the project's member states have yet to make a final decision on where the telescope will go, the odds are now that the African bid will ultimately win out against the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand to host the project. The SKA radio telescope will be made up of some a 3,000 dishes, each 15 metres in diameter. The project will try to answer big questions about the early Universe: how the first elements heavier than helium formed, for example, and how the first galaxies coalesced. The telescope is so sensitive that it could even pick up television signals from distant worlds — something that might aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

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Project security (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309827)

Is the project's security taken into consideration? South Africa isn't the most stable of countries, and its neighbours to the north are highly unstable.

Re:Project security (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309833)

The bleeding hearts of Europe want to patronise the Africans once again with a perceived leg up rather than guarantee the long term stability and viability of the project. Why isn't the LHC based in South Africa?

Re:Project security (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310223)

And what exactly would be the point of building the LHC outside of europe?

The reason why the proposed sites for the SKA are SA and Australia is because the site needs to be radio quiet.

Re:Project security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311739)

No, the real heart of the matter is the construction costs, and somebody's trying to be politically 'correct'.

Re:Project security (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310467)

Why isn't the LHC based in South Africa?

I don't know, because Switzerland is a much nicer place and because exporting petabytes of real-time data from Africa to Europe just isn't practical? It could also have something to do with geological stability. You don't want to have too many vibrations wherever you decide to build such a thing.

Re:Project security (3, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310721)

The southern hemisphere is better for radio astronomy and SETI. It has more interesting targets, including the most interesting nearby stars and the galactic center. Also, there are more radio telescopes in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere already, including Arecibo and the new 500 meter FAST dish being constructed in Southern China.

Re:Project security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39312231)

SKA is going to be producing data in quantities to dwarf the LHC.

Re:Project security (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313169)

Or you know, because the 27 km underground tunnel for the particle beams was already there?

The White Man's Burden (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311851)

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

--Rudyard Kipling, 1899

After over 100 years we still haven't learned a damn thing, have we?

What Sa has over Au ? (2, Informative)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309883)

I don't have time to read TFA, so please tell us what SA has over Au?

We are talking about a project that worth BILLIONS, and that the structures (radar and all) must be kept in a place

I don't mean to be patronizing - but I just can't see how Sa can win over Au in term of safety

Or is PC --- as in Political Correctness --- an important criteria in choosing Sa over Au?

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (5, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309921)

  • Cheaper construction costs due to the site being less remote.
  • Lower fiber-optic and power grid installation costs for the same reason.
  • Better government support, SA government is paying some infrastructure costs like the fiber optics and is legally guaranteeing radio-quiet.
  • Currently better back-haul undersea cables. 5 cables in two geographically redundant sets (west and east coasts) with multi-terabit capacity with 40Gbps lambda capability will be in place.
  • Innovative telescope and equipment design being done by the South Africans is lowering the per-telescope cost significantly as well.

Think that covers it.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309935)

and 45 million niggers who will be burning the thing down in a year....

but hey.....you can't say that because "dat be racisms"

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310293)

You, sir, are ignorant. Kaffirs, that's what they're called.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (1, Offtopic)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311305)

No, questioning the security of the site isn't racism.

But calling people "niggers" is.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310079)

Better government support, SA government is paying some infrastructure costs like the fiber optics and is legally guaranteeing radio-quiet.

These points actually weigh in favour of the Australian bid: their National Broadband Network project ($40b of government-funded network infrastructure development) is being run out to Geraldton (closest town to the prospective SKA site). Both countries are legally guaranteeing radio-quiet zones - but, to be honest, I'd expect the legal enforcement environment in Australia to be more reliable than that in South Africa.

You missed one other point in favour of South Africa: higher altitude, which is important at higher radio frequencies. Although at lower frequencies, altitude doesn't make any difference, and the limiting atmospheric factor is the stability of the ionosphere (which is better at the Australian site).

Innovative telescope and equipment design being done by the South Africans is lowering the per-telescope cost significantly as well.

There's a lot of technology development going on in both countries. The South African pathfinder telescope (MeerKAT) is using Gregorian offset antennas, produced via some new process (hydroforming, I think), but the radio receivers are relatively conventional. The Australian pathfinder telescope (ASKAP) is using relatively conventional antennas, but has some new Phased Array Feed receivers which allow it to see 30x as much of the sky at one time. I think the new Australian receivers are potentially more game-changing, but riskier: the first set had unexpectedly high noise across half of their frequency band, which they're working on fixing with the second batch.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310471)

Save pennies to spend pounds.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (5, Informative)

james.mcarthur (154849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309985)

"I don't mean to be patronizing - but I just can't see how Sa can win over Au in term of safety"

I think its more likely Australia's poor record at developing and capitalising on high-tech R&D.

Australia doesn't do high-tech. Look at Government policy for the last 20 years. Look at which companies in Oz actually do R&D. The poster child for Australian R&D is the CSIRO, and really they're the poster child because there is no-one else.

Then there is our Universities that are churning out business-types and lawyers but fewer and fewer scientists. So even if we wanted to start doing anything remotely high-tech, we don't have the people to do it - we'd need to import them. And there is a madness around these parts about letting immigrants into the country, fanned by the right-wing Opposition.

This isn't meant to be dismissive of the Australian proposal; it was very good and by all accounts so was the SA one. The plans for the supporting infrastructure was very impressive. But Australia has a reputation of only being interested in what we can dig out of the ground, not what we can use our brains for.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310343)

Agree. Hopefully some pointy questions will get asked as to why Africa is seen as a better place to do science than Australia.

But then again we have arsewit politicians who will probably ignore the whole thing as geeks-only and therefore irrelevant and carry on backstabbing each other and doing an excellent impression of the monkey exhibit in a zoo... including the public masturbation and flinging of poo. /sigh

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (1, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310449)

Re South Africa is seen as a better place to do science?
The long Bush Wars provided a great generational base for science and very hi tech.
South Africa with some help created aerodynamic casings for its nuclear weapons, that puts in a rather unique list.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jindalee_Operational_Radar_Network [wikipedia.org] Australia's tech efforts at the same time :)

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313035)

Well I hear a lot of SA accents here in Perth, which usually means there's problems abroad (witness the huge numbers of Irish accents around too).

If there's one thing that Western Australia has got, it's vast enormous areas of completely uninhabited wilderness, you'd think perfectly suitable for this sort of thing. Clearly the SA bid was either technically superior or there was politics involved. Either way, we have arsewit politicians...

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39312457)

But Australia has a reputation of only being interested in what we can dig out of the ground, not what we can use our brains for.

So just like SA then?

The big problem with SA is security. Any and all equipment will be stolen for scrap.

I knew a radar technician at an airport in SA who was on call one night when his radar stopped working. He went in to the control room and spent a couple of hours checking and eliminating possible electronic faults before finally going to look at the radar dish itself in a secure area half a mile away. When he got there he found that someone hod gotten through the security fences and stolen the rather large dish and some other aerials for scrap.

Re:What Sa has over Au ? (2)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311603)

.. so please tell us what SA has over Au?

Location. Australia is too far away, unless you live on it. And most people don't.

Re:Project security (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309965)

The only highly-unstable country in Southern Africa is Zimbabwe and that idiot will die one day and hopefully peace will result. Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola are all peaceful and stable. Above that, there are issues. At least we're not building nukes and toying with the world's trigger-fingers.

Re:Project security (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310241)

Just going down the list of countries associated with South Africa's bid:

  • Namibia: stable since its war of independence (from South Africa) in 1990.
  • Botswana: stable since independence in 1966.
  • Mozambique: civil war ended in 1992.
  • Ghana: after a coup, democracy restored in 1992.
  • Kenya: not very democratic in the 80s and 90s, but hasn't had a serious coup attempt since 1992.
  • Madagascar: revolution in 2009, but prior to that was stable from 1992.
  • Zambia: most recent revolution in 1991.
  • South Africa: apartheid overthrown in 1994

Compared with:

  • Australia: stable since (peaceful) independence in 1901.
  • New Zealand: self-governing in 1856; stable since then.

The SKA is intended to operate for 50 years. The fact that only one African SKA country has had a revolution in the last 18 years is promising - but still, I'd expect a couple more (if not South Africa itself) to be unstable during that time. Conversely, it would be surprising if Australia or New Zealand experienced political instability on that level.

Re:Project security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310411)

Clearly you've not heard of Tony Abbott and his war against science then.

Re:Project security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310267)

The only highly-unstable country in Southern Africa is Zimbabwe and that idiot will die one day and hopefully peace will result.

Yes, but Zimbabwe looked highly stable as recently as 15 years ago.

South Africa today remains a pressure-cooker of internal strife. To gamble SA will be as politically stable as Australia over the next 50 years is an exercise in poor odds to say the least.

Re:Project security (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310953)

At least we're not building nukes and toying with the world's trigger-fingers.

South Africa certainly built nuclear weapons [wikipedia.org] . They're the only country to ever develop an independent nuclear arsenal and then choose to get rid of it.

Re:Project security (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311249)

Of course they got rid of them......the De Klerk white government wasn,t going to let the niggers get hold of nukes !!.. I know this will get modded right down because I used the "N" word, but it's a fact.

Can you imagine the ANC and the junglebunnies being nuclear armed???.... OMG..the nightmare doesn't bear thinking about.

De Klerk was absolutely right in making sure they couldn't possibly fall into the wrong hands.

Jeeeeez.....imagine in NK or Pakistan gave some warheads to the DRC or Seirra Leone...what the FUCK do you think would happen?????

PC idiots.

Re:Project security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311495)

"Of course they got rid of them......the De Klerk white government wasn,t going to let the niggers get hold of nukes !!.. I know this will get modded right down because I used the "N" word, but it's a fact."

Apart from you appalling racism you also have your facts wrong. South Africa's nuclear and missile program was dismantled after 1994 under the new ANC government under the supervision of experts both from America and Russia.

It wasn't all good news because South Africa was within a few years of having a satellite launch capability of its own and that program was dismantled too, all the expertise dispersed across the world and the billions which had been sunk into it by the apartheid government went to waste. Its a great pity because it could have served as a technological innovation hub.

Re:Project security (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311583)

Bullshit.

The WHITE government dismantled the program in 1989 and then joined the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty in 1991. There were INSPECTIONS in 1994 to ensure the devices had been dismantled (which they had been) butt he weapons themselves had been gone for years prior to that.

Like I said, no way was De Klerk going to let the NIGGER ANC Terrorist organisation get their filthy paws on any nukes, to do so would be reprehensible.

And SA ALREADY had a satellite launching capability going back to the 1980's, in the form of RSA-4 launchers that were themselves ceased in 1992 or thereabouts. Again, so the niggers couldn't get hold of nukes and missiles to deliver them.

So, you're wrong on both counts.....funny that. Next you'll tell us about the wonderful paradise on earth that SA has been since 1992, right ?

Re:Project security (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311555)

what the FUCK do you think would happen?????

PC idiots.

Calm down dumbass. When did I say anything about the rights or wrongs of South Africa having them, or South Africa getting rid of them?

Re:Project security (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310115)

It is in the middle of the karoo, which is a desert. The biggest security threat would be dirty deeds done with sheep.

Re:Project security (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310285)

You don't make a decision like that without doing a thorough risk analysis.

They must have concluded that if it gets stolen there's an outside chance of capturing the perpetrator and getting it back, whereas if it's crushed in an earthquake, burned in a bushfire or washed away by a flood it's game over.

Re:Project security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311219)

I'm not going to try to stop someone capable of stealing the SKA!

As an Australian, all I can say is - (3, Insightful)

Zaldarr (2469168) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309831)

that it's not over yet.

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (4, Funny)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309839)

As a South African, I'll reply with -

"Bring it on Warnie-boy"

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (2)

Zaldarr (2469168) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309857)

Dem's fightin' words Wikus!

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (1)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309861)

(pops popcorn)

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310073)

(breaks out beer--Carlton Draught and Castle Lager)

Ooops, I guess South Africa wins... SAB just bought out Foster's Group.

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310207)

No Australian drinks Fosters. You think we export our good stuff? :-)

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310103)

I can see it now. 3 minutes (roughly 3 deliveries) before the decision is due, the last two standing saffers on the committee will attempt an ill-judged debate-point, allowing Mark Waugh to underarm the proposal to Gilly at the other end for an easy counter-point and victory, thus beginning the decades-long tradition of South African choking at international business deals.

Why oh why did you send Alan Donald and Lance Kluesener as your delegates?? :D

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (2)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310847)

That's not a Square Kilometre Array. THIS is a Square Kilometre Array!

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309875)

I call "shenanigans"!

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (-1, Flamebait)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310333)

Think about it this way. If Australia contributes any money or expertise to the project at all after this point, that is regarded as being a good sport. From now on, Australia just needs to make a minimal contribution and keep its mouth shut and either wait for South Africa to fuck up badly or the data rolls in.

Australia is one of the richest countries on earth, with law and order and ocassionally effective government services, wheras South Africa is a violent hellhole with a government who's one trick is apparently blaming their own incompetance on the fact that they can't abolish rule of law like Robert Mugabe did. Think about the last time anyone thought of South Africa, they got the world cup, got knocked out in the group stage and tried to socially contextualise those stupid plastic horns as being an integral part of African culture, despite their invention less than a decade earlier. This is South Africa, a land of under-achievement and excuses. It is no secret the world looks down on South Africa and this is a great project to make everyone feel better about themselves, the only loser here is science, but science always finds a way.

Re:As an Australian, all I can say is - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310757)

I concur lets cause a stink goddammit and get the government to do more to get it. If they can waste time for the UN, IMF, FIFA dammit they can do something useful and get us this telescope!

Parkes is kinda cool what with its history and all, but this would be incredible. Anyway africa is totally unstable, I hear there is some KONY guy there...

I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (3, Interesting)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309841)

I will admit that I don't know the cultures of both places very well, but between the two...

Wouldn't you go with Australia based on population density alone? This is a radio telescope, something you want in someplace remote. You pick a square kilometer out in the middle of the outback, there's going to be like NO local interference. South Africa has approximately 40 times the population density, and they seem to be spread around the country a little more evenly than Australia.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309889)

Plus Australia is one country in a whole continent, a country of mainly white people, with an extremely stable system of government and a booming economy (average Australian wealth is FOUR TIMES average American wealth for example).

South Africa is a crappy shithole in Africa run by and inhabited mainly by the niggers.

The antennas of the SKA will be stolen and converted into chicken coops, or just plain sold on the black market within a year.

They're crazy to give it to South Africa.

I'm serious by the way.....it's a stupid idea.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310485)

with an extremely stable system of government

Stable in the sense of having a stable history of not wanting to progress and selling itself to the highest bidder, yes. Stable in the sense that it consistently turns its back on any promises which America disagrees with, or which might involve more equitable treatment of the people. Stable in the sense of assuring the people that research and development will never be priorities in Australia.

South Africa is a crappy shithole in Africa run by and inhabited mainly by the niggers.

By comparison, yes. Isn't it great that they want to welcome scientific exploration and advance themselves?

The antennas of the SKA will be stolen and converted into chicken coops, or just plain sold on the black market within a year.

I think I fear South African law enforcement more than Australian. The former won't protect everyone, but when they've decided to protect something, I'll be careful not to tread on their toes.

They're crazy to give it to South Africa.

An R&D infrastructure is just what South Africa needs. Here's one brick in that edifice. Everyone wins when one country moves forward. They'd be crazy not to give it to South Africa.

OOI, have you ever done business in South Africa? It's possible that you're speaking from a position of ignorance. Hell, you don't even seem to have a grip on the local racist terminology. I was also thinking of linking to a few black South African scientists' pages to ask you how you feel about being less intelligent than them, but that seems too easy.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311335)

You're just a fucking dickhead, probably a nigger in Seth Efrika.

Tell you what, while I'm enjoying my prosperous and peaceful country and contemplating if I should buy the Porsche Boxster or BMW M3 next, while looking forward to finishing my Masters Degree in Engineering this semester and taking a stroll down a delightful and safe city street to maybe check out the latest offerings from the Mac Store or possibly have a nice meal at a cafe....you can slink back on your bicycle to your shanty town hovel, trying to avoid the gangs on the way, where you can then masturbate frantically on your x486 PC over some Net Pr0n chick that's way uglier than my GF.....all the while worrying about that aching tooth you can't seem to get fixed, or where your next meal is coming from......and remember not to drink the water!!!

Yes dipshit......I live in a country built by White people and it works just dandy.....like SA used to do under Apartheid, before the monkeys took over and fucked it all up as they always do, led by that international terrorist vermin Mandela.

So you take that thought with you as you huddle under your dirty blanket tonight, listening to the gunfire in the distance, monkey.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (2, Informative)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311365)

South Africa is a crappy shithole in Africa run by and inhabited mainly by the niggers.

I'm serious by the way.....it's a stupid idea.

Then why do you undermine your argument by using words like "niggers"? It doesn't make your argument any stronger; it just makes you look like a moron. Since you're too stupid to see that, people are going to assume you're also too stupid to analyze the actual pros/cons of the situation.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311817)

Because I used to live in JoBerg until 1998 when my entire family fled after the 86yo woman who lived next door was raped to DEATH in her own lounge chair one sunny afternoon by the local NIGGER thugs and it was a common occurrence.

Honestly, you idiots have NO IDEA what you're talking about. It's all just flowers and butterflies for you, right ? Try living in a place that USED to be functional but now is a cesspool of filth and depravity because 45 million coons got it into their boneheads that they knew how to run a country after being "oppressed" for so long.

So yes, there is now a thriving expat SA and ZIM community of "refugees" living in the UK and Canada and Australia and NZ and the commonality is they're all white, mainly educated and they all hate NIGGERS. Well, we call them kaffirs but the meaning is the same.

The funny thing is...you talk to the average township black and they want Apartheid back, at least THEY had jobs, food, security and didn't have to worry about THEIR families being slaughtered at night either in the old days. But that doesn't fit in with your bullshit PC "all whites are bad" world view now, does it ?

So, for the PC clowns here in the UK and USA....looks like you're in for a taste of it all yourselves from all those blacks, mexicans and pakis that infest your new slums now.

The undeniable FACTS are that SA has the highest violent crime rate in the world...... murder, assaults, beatings etc etc, HIV/AIDS is out of control....1000+ rapes A DAY ...... 100+ cops killed each year.......you get killed for your fucking phone ffs.........the economy is a basket case and getting worse and the whole shebang is "run" by the truly corrupt and depraved ANC and cohorts.

I saw that list of African "stability" posted up by someone here..oh wow, the monkeys deserve a fucking medal for not letting their country descend into complete anarchy in the last 10 years...good for them!

The truth is, Africa was run a lot better under White rule, and it should be that way again until the blacks have their savagery bred out of them, and some intellect bred in. Tell you what, why don't you move to Rhodesia (it'll always be Rhodesia) and see what happens to you there..........hmmm?

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311903)

Heh. He's just calling a spade a spade. How does that make him look like a moron?

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309899)

This is a radio telescope, something you want in someplace remote. You pick a square kilometer out in the middle of the outback, there's going to be like NO local interference. South Africa has approximately 40 times the population density, and they seem to be spread around the country a little more evenly than Australia

This is exactly what intriques me

I do not know what criteria that so-called "Science Panel" use - but for a radio telescope, the more remote the place, the less man-made radio signal there is, the better the location is

That is why I suspect PC --- as is Political Correctness --- forms a ***BIG*** part of the criteria

For Sa is mostly Blacks and Au is mostly Whites

Race does matter after all - in this 21st century science project

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310229)

Because white reflects more radiation than black???

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (5, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309903)

In most areas of South Africa, I would agree with you, but the Carnarvon site is so remote and inhospitable that it is regarded as one of the most radio-quiet places in the world. That combined with a law passed guaranteeing radio quiet in any designated area, such as the site, was part of the attraction.

Also, the engineers and scientists on our MeerKAT project team have come up with some very interesting technology [slashdot.org] to keep the farmers connected via cellular phones while keeping the site free from spillage. I get a sense that our chaps are "immature" who like to fiddle and innovate. And without the IP issues that plagues the West at the moment.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39311861)

...And without the IP issues that plagues the West at the moment.

Really?? You mean all your tech is in the public domain? Cool!

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309951)

It would go lovely next to Pine Gap (joke), I'm sure anywhere in the Simpson dessert would do. Surely if Australia can manage a joint defense project with the NSA at Pine Gap collecting SIGINT they can manage the SKA.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310145)

I will admit that I don't know the cultures of both places very well, but between the two...

Wouldn't you go with Australia based on population density alone? This is a radio telescope, something you want in someplace remote. You pick a square kilometer out in the middle of the outback, there's going to be like NO local interference. South Africa has approximately 40 times the population density, and they seem to be spread around the country a little more evenly than Australia.

Of course you disagree, you're an idiot who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. How much have you researched this issue? Have you ever worked with telescopes? If your answers are no and no then please shut the fuck up and accept the experts' decision. What makes you think there's a higher chance of your gut feeling being right than the team of experts who actually spent time researching before reaching a conclusion?

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310481)

How much have you researched this issue? Have you ever worked with telescopes? If your answers are no and no then please shut the fuck up and accept the experts' decision.

At what level of qualifications, intelligence and experience does the immunity from influences such as political pressure, coercion and corruption kick in?

If you think knowing the right thing implies doing the right thing you're either hopelessly naïve or you're one of the extra terrestrials they're looking for.

Re:I disagree, but I'm not sure how to explain (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312327)

If you think knowing the right thing implies doing the right thing you're either hopelessly naïve or you're one of the extra terrestrials they're looking for.

While "knowing the right thing" isn't a sufficient condition for "doing the right thing", I think that most people here would understand that it's at least necessary.

Excellent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309867)

Host the SKA telescope? Super Rad.

Maybe they will be able to see the Martian girl from planet V.

Contact. (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309897)

"The telescope is so sensitive that it could even pick up television signals from distant worlds â" something that might aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

It'll be Hitler's speech for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

--
BMO

Re:Contact. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39312117)

We can only hope...

Digital signal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39309923)

Would an extraterrestrial digital TV signal be recognized? Or would it just be seem to be white noise?

Re:Digital signal (3, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309989)

As long as it's above the noise floor, it would be recognizable. Not necessarily as TV, but as some sort of intentionally created signal. I doubt we'd be able to watch it though.

The real home run, though the odds are miniscule, would be if the timing works out that we pick up extraterrestrial signals right around the time that some other civilization is learning the basics of frequency modulated radio, so that they're just mapping frequencies of sound directly to frequencies of light. That would actually allow us to hear alien speech, which would obviously be amazing.

Of course, that assumes that they use verbal communication, and that their technology progresses similar to ours, and that the window of time that they used this technology (a couple centuries at most if they're similar to us) just so happens to fall in the time that we're listening, instead of millions of years before or after. So I'm not holding my breath, but it sure would be cool.

Re:Digital signal (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310317)

The real home run, though the odds are miniscule, would be if the timing works out that we pick up extraterrestrial signals right around the time that some other civilization is learning the basics of frequency modulated radio, so that they're just mapping frequencies of sound directly to frequencies of light.

FM doesn't do that; perhaps you're thinking of AM or SSB?

Re:Digital signal (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310385)

I did mean FM, though I didn't really express the idea properly. What I meant was that there was a direct transform from the received signal to a sound wave, as compared to digital modulation schemes which would only give us a meaningless string of bits. One can just take the frequency versus time graph, map it to voltage versus time, and plug it into a speaker.

I mentioned FM rather than AM only because I suspect it would arrive in better shape following an interstellar journey.

Re:Digital signal (2)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310711)

It still might do ok in the right time slot.

Rumours are not facts... (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309975)

Rumours and unidentified sources are not facts. Even TFA says, "Final decision on Square Kilometer Array's location not expected before April." There's plenty of time for trading of horse, greasing of palms etc.

Re:Rumours are not facts... (2)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310027)

This isn't a rumour, it is a sub-recommendation feeding into the main decision. The recommendation that the physical site and associated costs are better for the South African bid is fact.

Re:Rumours are not facts... (1)

Xhris (97992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310667)

Actually it *is* a rumor. There is no official statement. Who knows where the "leak" came from.

Because the SKA Servers were hacked? (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310863)

An event such as this? [scmagazine.com.au]

TV and Intelligence? (1)

fred911 (83970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310091)

The telescope is so sensitive that it could even pick up television signals from distant worlds â" something that might aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

God forbid they've received our terrestrial signals!

Re:TV and Intelligence? (2)

nomagnettowomen (1268344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310245)

I am very much hoping that highly intelligent beings have received our signals, understood our culture, and are beaming back final episodes for series that were cancelled in mid-season. There are many series that need better endings. But which ones depends on how far away they are. If they are closer, they could be now sending a better ending for Joanie Loves Chachi. If they are farther away, they could produce a better ending for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I just hope they do not become big fans of that famous TV show, The Invaders.

Re:TV and Intelligence? (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310311)

There are many series that need better endings.

Yeah, let's hope they don't receive HBO's "The Sopranos".

Re:TV and Intelligence? (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313671)

Unfortunately, they did not receive the final episode of "Single Female Lawyer"

Re:TV and Intelligence? (2)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310279)

'God forbid they've received our terrestrial signals!'

I wonder what they would fear most, tv evangelicals or our science fiction?

Good to hear this. (3, Insightful)

Shag (3737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310221)

The continent of Africa, as a whole, is woefully underdeveloped for astronomy (like it is for lots of other things). Yes, South Africa has some decent stuff, like SALT, based on the Hobby-Eberley scope in Texas, which is quite large. And the Canaries have plenty of observatories near Africa, but they're under Spanish control. A SKA would probably include some outlying dishes one or even two countries removed from South Africa, which would help make science more visible in those countries as well. /Biased since I work in astronomy and am married to an African. ;)

One thing Africa has in its favor (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310329)

Wide open spaces with no light pollution. This can finally be an asset! Not kidding either, go down there for vacation, the night sky is amazing.

Re:One thing Africa has in its favor (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310369)

Not that light pollution has much to do with a radio telescope, but the night sky in outback Australia is pretty impressive too.

Re:One thing Africa has in its favor (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310849)

Except you're too busy watching the ground for snakes to see the sky.

Not just South Africa (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310345)

It's going to South Africa which is sort of stable due to the fact that it's filled with minerals but also an assortment of other African countries that switch between civil war and democracy every few years. I read an article in the Guardian a few months ago about how giving this project to Africa would show how great the future of Africa is. However when Africa needs stability more than anything and warlords and militias to cease to exist I fail to see how importing a bunch of white european scientists is going to improve the future. Is it going to make the various Konies behave themselves now that there's a giant telescope in Africa?

This whole thing feels political, Australia and New Zealand are better situated from a geographical point of view and isn't the point of this telescope to get the best data possible?

Radio Spectrum Pollution . . . ? (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310357)

Just as light pollution is a problem for astronomers, Radio Spectrum Pollution is a problem for radio astronomers. Won't this be a big problem in South Africa?

With that constant drone of vuvuzelas, you can't hear a damn thing in that country.

SKA array, Meh.. (1)

drewsup (990717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310575)

WAke me up when the Two Tone array goes in!

South Africa will easily win! (1)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310631)

Arjen Rudd: [holds up his wallet] Diplomatic immunity! HA HA HA!
[Roger slowly rolls his head on his neck, takes aim, and fires - his bullet goes through Rudd's wallet, and then his head]
Roger Murtaugh: It's just been revoked!

Australia for the long view, SA for the short (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310801)

If I were paying the bill, I would vote for South Africa due to the abundance of cheap labor available compared to Australia. Cheap labor is a huge advantage with such a huge construction project. You might even be able to import labor from a nearby country. OTOH, if I think in terms of centuries or millenia, I would vote for Australia due to its long term political stability, its physical isolation and its much greater size. Look back 100 (or even 10,000) years and ask yourself which country would be more likely to suffer from a military attack on the array. We really should be thinking in terms of all the changes that can happen in centuries or millenia. Australia is simply a much safer place to build such a device than is South Africa. Even Chile or Argentina would probably be safer, although I could envision a war between the two countries in which one bombs the other's SKA. Still, both Chile and Argentina have better internal stability than SA, which will always be a bit of a powder keg due to the racial tensions.

Re:Australia for the long view, SA for the short (1)

Dusty101 (765661) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311513)

I don't think that Chile would be a risk in the way that you describe. It already has a number of big, modern telescopes, such as Gemini South, the VLT(I) and ALMA, and had a a lot of smaller observatories during the Allende & Pinochet years. They're not really perceived as military targets.

(Disclaimer: I work at ALMA).

Re:Australia for the long view, SA for the short (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312021)

Whenever I hear "abundance of cheap labor available" given as an advantage, I know the situation is not going to end well. Ever.

Add a few telescopes in Brazil too (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39310827)

I think they should add a few telescopes in northeastern Brazil too, as judged by looking at Google Earth.

The northeastern tip of Brazil would be a nice addition to the spiral mentioned in the article.

Re:Add a few telescopes in Brazil too (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311971)

For SETI/METI purposes Brasil is directly below some interesting targets such as Gliese 581. Just make sure the astronomers don't watch City of God before visiting. The language barrier could also be a problem. Not nearly as many people speak Portuguese as a second language as Spanish (or English).

The high humidity could also be a problem. Water vapor starts to attenuate signals after about 9-12 Ghz. Deserts, preferable high altitude deserts, are ideal. The Atacama Desert in Chile and the Plains of San Agustin in New Mexico are good examples.

Re:Add a few telescopes in Brazil too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39312543)

"The high humidity could also be a problem."

Not necessarily in northeastern Brazil. It is one of the more arid zones.

http://www.zonu.com/brazil_maps/Brazil_Temperature_Precipitation_Map_2.htm

ska's not dead! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39310883)

how many rudeboys does it take to work the SKA telescope? one to look in the eyepiece and three to pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!

I vote for South Africa (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311027)

I know I have no vote in that matter. But if I could, I would vote for South Africa. For two reasons: First, it is a poor country with a growing problem in violence. The cause of that is the high unemployment rate and problems in the education system and the overall education. This is typical for countries where the wealth is distributed unequally. The same problems are known in China or Brazil or even the USA. Therefore, the telescope should go there because it will generate jobs there, it will increase the feeling of people that something is actually developing, and it improves the desire for knowledge which normally has positive effects to the education system as well (at least people what ti be educated more than before). Second, it is a great country. I have been there and I liked it. It was a dynamic society. Not like those Western countries which have big problems in that area.

BTW: Australia is most likely also a great country. But I have never been there and I do not have relatives there. So my vote is for ZA and not AUS.

Extraterrestrial Intelligence (1)

DaneM (810927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311175)

"The telescope is so sensitive that it could even pick up television signals from distant worlds — something that might aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

I suspect that the intelligence of any society goes briefly upward upon inventing a television...and sharply downward as soon as something is actually broadcast to it.

I also suppose, however, that our own notion of what constitutes a "thinking man" ("sapiens") species prevents us from lowering the requirement of what's called "intelligent," so as to ensure that we qualify to be discovered by any TV-watching extraterrestrials who might care to share their soap operas with us. Hmmmm...that would take satellite TV to a whole new quantum of junk delivery...

But what if .... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312027)

... they have cable?

Seriously, most technological societies will probably go through a very brief period where they broadcast megawatt signals all over their planet. Following their adoption of cellular, mesh and other similar low power systems, they will appear to 'go dark' in the RF spectrum to distant observers.

Now if we can pick up their power grid frequencies, that will be useful. Are they like us good Americans, using 60 Hz? Or commie socialist Europeans with 50 Hz?

Meh... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39311267)

Call me when they decide where to put the Reggae telescope.

Build the SKA on the far side of the moon (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312145)

1. Build a StarTram in the Himalayas.
2. Send all the aluminium struts and panels to the moon.
3. Build the SKA on the far side of the moon.

Cold temperatures. No atmosphere to get in the way. Most terrestrial interference would be blocked by the moon itself. Most frequencies that you might want to listen for are being blocked by the atmosphere. We have some atmospheric windows at 1-15 Ghz, 34 - 37 Ghz, and 73 - 77 Ghz and, aside from the visual spectrum, that's about it. Pathetic really. For all we know some friendly aliens on Alpha Centauri could be broadcasting to us outside of those windows and we'd never know. Higher frequencies are more efficient for deep space transmission. So it's actually quite likely. Maybe that's the cause of The Great Silence aka The Fermi Paradox. Maybe we need an SKA in space before we can start picking up transmissions from The Federation.

Put It On The Moon? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312477)

Wouldn't assembling the Teleoscope on the Moon give it a better chance of always having a "clear" time to view with? Using Robotics to assemble the componets and very few Human Tenders if any?

extraterrestial intelligence (1)

techdolphin (1263510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39312493)

"The telescope is so sensitive that it could even pick up television signals from distant worlds — something that might aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

Or remove all doubt that the extraterrestrial life is intelligent.

Sadly, the perfect location of Jamaica rejected (1)

Pvt_Waldo (459439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313417)

With deep roots going back to the late 50's, I am saddened that Jamaica was not selected.

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