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SKA Might Be Split Between South Africa and Australia

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the two-times-half-not-better-than-one dept.

Australia 110

gbrumfiel writes "The Square Kilometre Array will be the world's most powerful telescope, assuming the nations involved can agree on where to build it. A scientific panel recently backed South Africa over Australia to host the project, but neither side has conceded defeat. Rather than splitting the partners, project leaders are now thinking about splitting the telescope between the two countries. There's little scientific advantage, but the thinking is that a split telescope would be better than no telescope."

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110 comments

No public recommendation (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642777)

None of the official sources has confirmed that the recommendation went to South Africa.
It springs from two Australian newspaper articles which weren't sourced.
This isn't to say South Africa wasn't recommended, but you shouldn't report it as fact.

Sarah Wild
South Africa

Re:No public recommendation (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642981)

Nature claims independent verification of the Sydney Morning Herald's claim that South Africa was recommended. That's pretty damn strong evidence. In any event, if you want to tell someone they "shouldn't report it as fact", you're in the wrong place. Slashdot has no reporters and does not report anything.

Re:No public recommendation (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647741)

SKA? They should have a leg in the Carribean. When is the REGGAE telescope going to be built?

Interferometer (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642787)

There's little scientific advantage

Make it a interferometer? Seems obvious, so there must be something wrong with that idea.

Re:Interferometer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642855)

Is that even possible with the bandwidth available to Africa?

Re:Interferometer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642921)

uhh ... it is. 1 GHz = 30 cm. 30 cm is a lot smaller than a kilometer. Should be about .01 degrees for a rough order of magnitude, if they don't use any techniques.

Re:Interferometer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642937)

Make it a interferometer? Seems obvious, so there must be something wrong with that idea.

Not very useful, since there's not a lot of sky visible both from South Africa and western Australia.

Re:Interferometer (3, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643093)

Make it a interferometer? Seems obvious, so there must be something wrong with that idea.

Not very useful, since there's not a lot of sky visible both from South Africa and western Australia.

Also, any radio telescope array is already a interferometer. The SKA is the mega-version of a interferometer, or you could say a hybrid of an ATA and VLBI.

Re:Interferometer (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643971)

You'll have to excuse me because I went to public schools, so I forgot about that whole "earth is round" thing. Dammit.

About 100 degrees of longitude separates them.... Seriously though I was thinking of southern circumpolar observations... anything below their lattitude never locally sets. That is kind of a problem with both observation sites in the extreme south... they're not going to be making observations of Polaris anytime soon, which is too bad. Now "Indonesia / Kenya" would be pretty good locations, at least WRT latitude.

Re:Interferometer (2)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644231)

Yeah, I was an advanced public school student. I know the earth is round, but forget that its spherical, rather than cynldrical.

Re:Interferometer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39651995)

Seriously though I was thinking of southern circumpolar observations... anything below their lattitude never locally sets.

That's true, but a telescope can't point all the way to the horizon. Firstly, it means that it's looking through a greater depth of atmosphere, which interferes with the signal. Secondly, if a radio telescope points too far down, the antenna hits the ground. (This one [wikipedia.org] , for example, can tilt up to 60 degrees from vertical, or at least 30 degrees above the horizon.)

So telescopes in Australia and South Africa could still see a common patch of sky around the south celestial pole, but it isn't very big. Besides, the main point to having the SKA in the southern hemisphere is to see the Galactic Centre, which is 60 degrees away from the south celestial pole.

Re:Interferometer (3, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643385)

The real reason is that it's much harder to kill the telescope project once it's in two separate jurisdictions. The B-2 bomber had parts made in all 50 states so nobody could vote to kill the project without killing jobs in their state when the project went horrendously over budget (it's still a cool plane, though).

Re:Interferometer (4, Informative)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643599)

The design already calls for dishes scattered across a circular region roughly 3000 km wide (though the highest density of dishes will be in patches 5 km across in the center of the array) to create a very large synthetic aperture.

The problem with an interferometer having just two widely-separated points is that it only provides high angular resolution along the axis between those points. (It's not useless, but it is very limited.) The two sites are about 10,000 km apart, which somewhat limits the amount of sky that both sites will be able to see simultaneously (and observe continuously for any extended period of time). If a large number of telescopes are involved in the interferometer array, one needs some very high bandwidth data connections, which I'm not certain exist between South Africa and Australia. In practice, I suspect that what you'd be getting would be more like two Half-Kilometer-Arrays rather than a long-baseline SKA.

What has been proposed, and should be technically feasible, is dividing the array up by frequency band. The plan already calls for three overlapping arrays of different types of telescopes in order to capture three different frequency bands. (Phased array dipole antennas work great at 100 MHz, whereas you need dishes for 10 GHz.) In principle, one could put the low- and mid-frequency arrays on one site and the high-frequency arrays on another. That avoids the problems with bandwidth associated with long-baseline interferometry, and it allows each array to scan its entire local sky without worrying about what's over the distant station's horizon.

The downside is that this increases overall costs. Two sites need to be prepared; two sets of computing facilities need to be built; two different national governments have to be placated. Scientifically, it means that the entire array can't always be 'pointed' in the same place across its entire frequency spectrum--sometimes the high- or low-frequency portion of the array will be below the horizon.

Re:Interferometer (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643871)

The downside is that this increases overall costs. Two sites need to be prepared; two sets of computing facilities need to be built; two different national governments have to be placated.

The costs are definitely an issue (though not having everything running at once means that the ferocious data rate would be reduced, which will cut costs a lot even if you need to build two supercomputers). The governmental placation shouldn't be a big issue; they're currently competing strongly for it after all.

Scientifically, it means that the entire array can't always be 'pointed' in the same place across its entire frequency spectrum--sometimes the high- or low-frequency portion of the array will be below the horizon.

For almost all astronomical objects, it matters not one bit at all whether the observations are simultaneous or separated by a few hours. Even supernovae last for weeks. It would only matter if there was the opportunity of having full 24-hour observation of objects, but that's not going to happen with any telescope as far away from the poles as either Australia or South Africa. Since continuous observation is impossible, having the breaks in observation time at different times of the day won't matter too much.

Sound like a political repeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647289)

This is sounding more and more like a political repeat of the US supercollider project that was eventually awarded to Texas. Once Texas got it there wasn't enough incentive for the other states to support it and well as we all know, Europe now has the project and controls the field of high energy physics.

It makes little scientific sense to attempt to build such a project in both jurisdictions and even less financial sense.

However, has anyone given consideration to splitting the data collecting and the data analyzing aspects of the project between the top two candidates. Say build the array in South Africa as is proposed by the technical panel, but award the bulk of the infrastructure and funding for analysis to the Australians. Surely, there are ways to divide the project along functional lines of this type without jeopardizing the physical design of the system. If they do that, what's the point of spending alll that money? If such a functional splitting of the pie could be arrived at it would seem to be a win win for both and would then set up the second candidate for a larger array in the future, without destroying good will among partners and impeding the original purpose of the array in the first place, namely to do more science?

I don't really have an ax to grind one way or the other as I think both countries are great and do much great science, even though this particular science program has very little to do with preserving and studying biodiversity, which in my opinion is a far more pressing concern than additional spending on astronomy. Not that its not important, but the heavens will still be shining in a few hundred years, pretty much as they are now. The same can not be said for many if not most of the world's species, many of which we know far less about than distant galaxies and stars. In any event, the astronomers of the world need to get their act together and make some tough choices without jeopardizing the original intent and promise of the science.

Re:Interferometer (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644333)

What has been proposed, and should be technically feasible, is dividing the array up by frequency band. The plan already calls for three overlapping arrays of different types of telescopes in order to capture three different frequency bands. (Phased array dipole antennas work great at 100 MHz, whereas you need dishes for 10 GHz.) In principle, one could put the low- and mid-frequency arrays on one site and the high-frequency arrays on another.

Note that MEERKAT [ska.ac.za] is going ahead in South Africa regardless of the outcome of the decision on SKA, and will operate from 0.5-14 GHz.

And this is probably due the common occurance... (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642789)

Of politics stepping in where it has no business, and mucking everything up. Going to read TFA now...

There's little scientific advantage, but the think (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642793)

...it would be great a great global welfare program.

Invasive species (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642811)

I'm surprised SKA is being split between two African countries. It seems like such a white hipster style than African.

Re:Invasive species (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644755)

err you do know that Australia is a completely different continent than africa right??

in fact on the "bottom half" of the earth you have africa (quarter twist to the east) australia and then (half twist to the easy) south america with the antarctic? continent on the very bottom.

South Africa? (4, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642821)

Not a place I'd want to move my family to or have any long term plans.........and it seems a lot of South Africans feels the same way.........

http://www.sa-austin.com/blog/2011/04/what-were-your-main-reasons-for-leaving-south-africa-263.html [sa-austin.com]
http://digitaljournal.com/article/267776 [digitaljournal.com]

Re:South Africa? (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642919)

Yeah but the alternative is Australia, land of scary fauna.

Re:South Africa? (1)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642951)

The flora isn't far behind the fauna.

Re:South Africa? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643107)

I met Flora once. You're right. Scary!

Re:South Africa? (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643573)

Yes, as opposed to the land of Black Mambas, Lions, Rhinos, and Hippos.

Re:South Africa? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39645221)

More people are killed by hippos than by any other animal (other than man himself, of course).

Re:South Africa? (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647939)

In the area the array is to be built there are no hippos. In fact there is very little water or anything other than vast, relatively flat, arid open spaces.

Why do seemingly educated people find the need to make up imaginary problems when they are not even there?

Re:South Africa? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39648317)

No-one was making up imaginary problems.

One guy pointed out that Australia has lots of dangerous (and just plain wierd) animals.

Another guy points out that Africa does too.

And I point out, just because I was bored, that hippos are actually the most dangerous animal to man on the planet (except other men).

Not one of us suggested that "dangerous animals" were an issue to be addressed by the people wanting this telescope.

If *I* were trying to point out that "dangerous animals" were an issue for this telescope, the only one I'd have bothered to mention would have been the Most Dangerous Animal to men - other men....

I live in South Africa... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643063)

I live in South Africa so I can give some context...
For a few years around our first democratic elections many people were scared the country is going to go downhill etc. They left in droves to places like the UK, Australia, Canada, NZ. Hundreds of thousands of people emigrated. The best part is that the country didn't go downhill and many of the people who left are having a hard time justifying why they left. We've had the longest period of economic growth in the country's history since the 1994 elections and anyone who attended the 2010 soccer world cup can tell you what a beautiful friendly place South Africa is.

I think the biggest problem we have in terms of our image is that the hundreds of thousands of people who left for other countries feel a constant need to justify why they left and talk about SA is if it were some sort of war zone. People who actually live in South Africa (like me) often are not sure how to respond to Australians and others who we meet. Their perceptions of SA are so badly warped by the nonsense spouted by those who emigrated from SA 10 to 17 years ago. The amusing part is those returning from London to SA in search of better economic and career prospects here. Those of us who stayed here just smile knowingly.

Re:I live in South Africa... (2)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643543)

Yeah, I met a guy, whom I respect. He came from South Africa. He told me why he left, but I can't remember the details. It was probably because his parents brought him along, and he was of school age.

He told me that it was very comparable to Canada, in that it looked nice, and it was one of the more prosperous places in Africa. He did mention some bad stuff, but that was because we were having a well rounded discussion. I don't think that we discussed how peaceful the situation was, but I recall thinking of it as quite good.

If I were offered the opportunity, I would visit SA. I don't want to bash America, but contrast that with travelling in America. I've got nothing to hide, and I respect authorities, but I don't like the idea of being spied upon, and treated with disrespect. I get the sense that I will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Whereas in SA, I get the impression that I will be treated with basic respect in basic situations, and that's all I need.

Of course, I could be wrong.

No doubt, because he spoke highly of his home country, I have the impression that splitting SKA between both countries might be a good thing. It could make it easier for both countries to form cultural bonds. It could also help SA to shed the bad parts of its reputation.

Re:I live in South Africa... (2)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647023)

Yes, you are wrong.

Living in SA means being constantly vigilant to random crime like rape, murder and violence. SA has the highest violent crime rate in the world (second only to Mexico because of their current drug war). Defenceless old (white) people on smallholdings and farms are very often targets of unbelievably brutal and violent murder (we're talking about being tortured with boiling hot water, or stoves, or being bashed with bricks, hammers, spades, or burned with hot irons, etc). So are defenceless old African folk. Being defenceless means it's ok to rape, steal from, torture and beat. You'd be surprised how many children (black and white) get raped, then murdered, in SA. ...or gutted like a pig - while conscious - to harvest their organs for African witchcraft. Kids and toddlers, for fuck sakes.

Recently some nice men invaded a family home while the parents were at work. The nanny and baby whom she was looking after - were beaten and tortured. The baby so badly she ended up being blinded. A baby. Beaten on the head and face by grown men, so hard they blinded her. For money.

If you are white, you are seen as a soft target. If that means breaking into your home at night, gang raping your wife and daughter, then torturing and murdering you, then so be it. Being shot in the head while waiting for the traffic light to change (because they want your car), is just for kicks. If you, your family or community complains about this, then you are branded a racist.

When a respected African bank leader speaks out against government corruption and the degradation of the rule of law, instead of taking stock and debating the issue on a social and national level, the government and it's barking dogs attack the man personally. It's the African way.

There are more police men and women murdered in SA every year than any other country, per capita.

It just goes on and on. We tolerate it because not much can be done when you don't have a true functional democracy where the electorate cast their vote based on merit.

Sadly, nothing will ever change in this country. ...but, it's home. I may have my roots in europe (english/dutch/german descent), but this is my home.

Re:I live in South Africa... (1)

jheath314 (916607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650213)

I set out to look for information to refute your claims of the abnormal quantity and quality of violence in South Africa, because I didn't want to believe your post could be true. Instead I only found information confirming that South Africa has major problems with rape and murder, from pretty reliable sources like the UN and Interpol.

Wikipedia has a pretty decent summary of the issue, with lots of supporting references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_South_Africa [wikipedia.org]

Stay safe, good sir.

Re:I live in South Africa... (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644089)

As someone else who lives in South africa, mod parent up! That being said, if we get the SKA, the bandwidth it requires is going to need dedicated infrastruture to be built. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think you can even get DSL out in the karoo (the desert area they plan on building the SKA in). Still, I suspect this would be the case in Australia as well, and even in the middle of Western Europe; this thing is going to use so much bandwidth that no matter where it's built it's going to need it's own pipe.

Re:I live in South Africa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644143)

I guess when even ruling party-connected black businesspeople discuss how to move their assets offshore, it would be wise to consider the bubble to be bursting sooner or later.

On the other hand, such things are not reported in the media but at company functions etc. as the evening has drawn on, so unfortunately no citations.

Re:I live in South Africa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644763)

Sounds like you got lucky, all the rats and cheaters and cowards left, so all you had left were good people.

Re:I live in South Africa... (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647147)

No, the country lost entrepreneurs, professionals, engineers, doctors, business people, leaders, innovators, employers, and will continue to lose them.

Re:I live in South Africa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39645173)

I'm not sure what South Africa you live in, buy my version includes insane levels of GDP destroying corruption and taxes as well as etoll-ing, protection of information act (end of free speech), very high murder, rape, house invasions, torture and slavery numbers. Middle class South African's live behind tall walls and electrified fences because the police are useless in curtailing crime. The government has devolved into an ineptocracy (and that is being optimistic). Thanks to the ineptitude of government, and/or their intention to fleece the population, electricity rates have more than doubled and will do so again by 2014 getting to the point where we will be one of the most expensive in the world. Water infrastructure is crumbling and I don't trust the stuff that comes from the tap as the water treatment plants are not well maintained, overburdened and in the smaller municipalities, raw sewerage and toxic leaks have occurred and will continue to occur.

As the only thing standing in the way between the ruling party and tyranny is our constitution, the rants from the ruling party that the constitution court is not representitive enough and that they intend to fix that situation is frightening. The context, major setbacks on their road to absolute power thanks to that court.

Yes, the South African libtards believe in double rainbows, unicorns and fluffy white clouds covering the land of milk and honey. I, on the other hand, live in the real world and everything you said about South Africa is complete BS.

Re:I live in South Africa... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39646437)

I live in South Africa so I can give some context...
I know people who have been directly affected by rape, home-invasion, murder, violence, corruption, incompetence. All perpetrated by africans, not whites. Yes, it's a beautiful country and I love it because it's home. I've resisted the pull of starting a new life elsewhere. Instead I started a business, employ people, pay taxes, contribute. However, I now have two daughters, so my perspective has changed. Do I hang around until they're also raped and/or murdered by some random criminal because he feels the urge in his stinking loins, want's her cellphone (and is prepared to murder for it), or because he's "disadvantaged" and feels entitled? Fuck that.

I see the government run by criminals appoint other criminals to positions of power, where they squander and steal. Then, when caught, are unashamedly promoted or redeployed. We have a president implicated in corruption, yet the masses are blind to the facts.

I see a government, and president, who flirts with changing the constitution. This does not bode well for an african country, considering the history of other african countries.

We have a "democracy" of sorts, but it's really tyranny of the masses, where voting is strictly on racial lines, not on merit.

How long before a new demagogue like Julius Malema (now deposed because he dared insult his african leaders, after years of racially insulting whites) comes to real power and decides to really break the constitution because it's expedient, and he feels the urge in his stinking loins? How long before BBBEE (go google it) becomes a smokescreen for land, property and business grabbing/theft like we see in Zimbabwe?

No. It's too late for my wife and I, but at least my daughters will have a decent future elsewhere where dignity, decency, the rule of law and basic human respect are not just hot air to spew forth during election campaigns to whip up the masses.

Re:I live in South Africa... (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647409)

I totally agree. There are tough neighborhoods and there is plenty of poverty and crime, but the place is beautiful, the people friendly, even I might add to me as a white American from Mississippi visiting the townships, and there is much good science going on there. Their national fish collection in Grahamstown, which I am familiar with, is one of the leading research facilities of its kind in the world.

I hope the astronomers can get their act together here. By adding an excellent facility in South Africa, they increase the strength of world science infrastructure a great deal by developing another major player. Surely, there must be an important role Australian astronomers can play in this project without necessarily hosting the facility. Build that role into the project and get on with it rather than going the US supercollider route and ultimately destroying the project entirely.

Re:South Africa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643485)

a bunch of expats sitting in a fishbowl justifying why they left. please.
i moved back to SA and it's been totally great. plenty opportunity. no recession. no terrorists. no banking crisis. no corporate control of everything. great weather. great people. incompetent government is not always a bad thing.

Re:South Africa? (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39645901)

incompetent government is not always a bad thing. ...implying it's sometimes a good thing?

The SA government is not only incompetent, but corrupt.

Re:South Africa? (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647571)

As an American who has a considerable interest in South African politics and as visited on many occasions, I would say it is not only incompetent and corrupt, but no where near so as say in the US, where money and politics mix in much larger volumes and in much more corrosive ways. For example, South Africa doesn't have a vulture capitalist running for president nor large corporations and PAC's of unregulated cash defining their electoral system.

Re:South Africa? (1)

musmax (1029830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644285)

SALT of the earth. And yet even with the great exodus of skills some dedicated people still pull stuff like this off: http://www.salt.ac.za/fileadmin/files/talks/DoDInLights.avi [salt.ac.za] I love SA but I'm not going back, not before changes happen that would be unlikely in my lifetime.

Here's a fun idea (1)

mwfischer (1919758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642889)

Build two.

Re:Here's a fun idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39642931)

yes then we can see the universe in 3d!

But also little disadvantage (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39642939)

According to TFA the only disadvantage of splitting is that there has to be a computing centre built on each site, slightly increasing the costs. But I'm sure that the losing one of the two countries would happily foot the bill for that if it meant that they could still get one half.

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643541)

Footing part of the bill yourself offsets one of the key reasons to bid on the scope in the first place - having other people's money spent in your country. Nobody is going to be happy about getting half the package *and* an additional bill for 'privilege' of only getting half the package. (Which is why the politicians are not happy about the proposal, as mentioned in TFA.)

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643719)

I wish that the article had mentioned the extra costs, and given an estimated life of the telescope.

An extra million might not be that big of a deal, if it can be spread out over many decades, and if it fosters better communication between nations.

Also, if the million were split between 2 nations, and if the half package still brought in a net gain, then they can't complain.

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644503)

It's a supercomputer center... so, it's going to be quite a bit more than a million I suspect.

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644229)

Computing is cheap, I think the majority of the costs are the telescopes themselves. The politicians are "not happy" because they are bartering, it remains to be seen if they think it seriously.

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644493)

Oranges are cheap too... until you want to buy a few tens of tons of them. Then the bill gets pretty steep.

So it goes with computing - computers are cheap, but supercomputer centers are not.

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643705)

From what I've heard, the government people involved on both sides aren't interested in only hosting half a telescope. I'm sorry I can't seem to find the reference at the moment, if I find it I'll come back...

Re:But also little disadvantage (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643919)

According to TFA the only disadvantage of splitting is that there has to be a computing centre built on each site, slightly increasing the costs. But I'm sure that the losing one of the two countries would happily foot the bill for that if it meant that they could still get one half.

It might actually reduce costs. The projected computing needs for the full SKA were crazy-high, right at the boundaries of what was conceivable as possible even allowing for Moore's Law. If splitting it up means you don't need a computer center that's quite so cutting edge, that will save a huge amount. (The really cutting edge kit is much more expensive than the stuff that's a little more commodity.) It helps that the computer centres would be built in areas with really low land prices...

Gods, it's like dealing with children. (4, Funny)

Fishchip (1203964) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643023)

'OK, OK, you can each have half of the damn telescope, just shut up and give me some peace.'

Re:Gods, it's like dealing with children. (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643243)

The insanity of building TWO facilities because neither side is willing to let go of their new favourite toy is absolutely mind-boggling.

So if they're like children, the public and governments are being really shitty parents be letting this foolishness continue instead of spanking them both and giving it to a third nation that isn't even on the application list just to spite both greedy contestants.

Re:Gods, it's like dealing with children. (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39645305)

The insanity of building TWO facilities [...]

The beginning of your sentence reminded me of Sagan's "Contact".

Rename (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643055)

So, its the Double Half Square Kilometer Array now then?

Re:Rename (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643073)

double 707.106781 meter squared array for the really really pendantic ;O

Re:Rename (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643755)

double 707.106781 meter squared array for the really really pendantic ;O

OMG, stop swinging from the radiotelescope THIS MINUTE, kids!

SA too risky (3, Informative)

mauriceh (3721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643075)

Ask anyone who is a resident or ex resident of S.Africa..
It is simply a matter of time until the place descends into chaos.
And yes, i have lived there.

Re:SA too risky (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643147)

Ask anyone who is a resident or ex resident of S.Africa..
It is simply a matter of time until the place descends into chaos.
And yes, i have lived there.

Since you're asking... I live in South Africa and I'd like some of whatever it is you've been smoking. We have the longest period of economic growth since the 94 elections and our democratic institutions are functioning pretty darn well thank you very much.

When did you last live here? 15 years ago?

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643205)

No, what he says is absolutely true.
Then again, it's also perfectly true if you replace "S.Africa" with any other place in the universe; the second law of thermodynamics respects no national boundaries!

Re:SA too risky (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643345)

We have the longest period of economic growth since the 94 elections and our democratic institutions are functioning pretty...

Keep in mind that most of that 3.4% growth comes from mining exports (including manufactured iron and steel). This shouldn't be confused with diversified economies in more stable regions like... Australia.

Also just last year there were renewed fears of increased violence against foreigners as the the rate of xenophobic violence continues to rise unabated by the anemic attempts by the South African government. Some political leaders have been implicated in the report from the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Monitoring Project.

Re:SA too risky (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643503)

The current power struggle is between the head of a corrupt old guard, and a younger, angrier version of Robert Mugabe. Sooner or later death will take the older gentleman.

The analysis on South Africa is correct unless a new majority driven party takes power.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643605)

The "younger angrier version of Rob Mugabe" was disciplined and suspended from the ruling party. In any event he was never anywhere near being nominated for any position of authority in government. He's a joke. Every country has politics so to speak of a "power struggle" as if it's some danger is just silly. Every country has a few crazy politicians (mostly wannabe's) that everyone likes to makes jokes about.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644099)

That doesn't mean ANYTHING. "Suspended from the ruling party"? So he'll form his own party. Or retake the ANC.

Old people get old. They die.

"disciplined and suspended" is a paper tiger. He's young. He's popular and he represents a rising tide of folks who are tired of the peaceful path, and given how long they've waited with little results, one can understand it.

Many of them don't know the harm that Mugabe's policies will do to them. Especially when the majority of Africa defends him.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644437)

Old people get old. They die.
SA is a democratic country. When his second term is over as president we'll vote for somebody else. The nobody you are harping on about doesn't even hold a junior position in government. He's a joke: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fYhBlDAABps/T31ZkoK0AiI/AAAAAAAAFY0/TelGcB7fGmw/s1600/zapiro05April2012.jpg

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647149)

So is saying that AIDS is a lie or supporting Robert Mugabe but that hasn't stopped every ANC leader since Mandela from saying or doing crazy things.

And SA is a country with democratic elections. It isn't democratic when only one party has any chance of winning.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643609)

There's violence against foreigners if you're nigerian living in a township. That's it.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644033)

And who cares about some nigerians in a township right ?

Re:SA too risky (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647829)

There are practically no townships of any kind even for the locals in the area the facility will be built. This is a total red herring that is being brought into a scientific discussion merely to introduce fear as a factor for making a technical decision.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643747)

Keep in mind that most of that 3.4% growth comes from mining exports (including manufactured iron and steel). This shouldn't be confused with diversified economies in more stable regions like... Australia.

The South African economy is just as diversified as Australia's:
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2012.html
Agriculture: Aus : 4% SA: 2.5%
Industry: Aus: 25.6% SA: 31.6%
Services: Aus: 70.4% SA: 65.9%

I think you're just sore because we keep beating you at everything from Cricket to building better telescopes ;)

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39646141)

Well, you have less than half our GDP with more than double our population.

We're not all that sore, don't worry.

Re:SA Not Risky At All (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647781)

As the World Cup Soccer Championship that took place in Cape Town and other cities demonstrated, that fear simply isn't rational. Yes, there was violence against foreigners, but it was primarily directed at Zimbawians, who have been displaced by turmoil there. This is a situation not at all dissimilar to the way Mexican and other Latin Americans entering into the US are treated, who resent their presence because they purportedly "steal jobs". The South African government moved quickly to address the problem. Unlike we Americans with our own similar problem, yet no one would claim that the US isn't a fit place to do astronomy or science.

Actually, much of the 3.4% growth comes from agricultural exports, in particular some of the nicest wines in the world. A good "champagne" for only $3 US that is comparable to those in France isn't such a bad thing as even the French will tell you.

It would seem to me that the world scientific community would do well to see this built in South Africa as it would broaden the base for scientific infrastructure and bring yet another government into a stronger appreciation of the role of science and scientific infrastructure to diversifying and improving economies. Sure one can always find one more reason to build one more facility in an already developed country, but will it have as big an impact on the growth of world science? Surely, there is a role for the Australians to play if it turns out that their proposal is not the one with the greatest technical merit. The scientific community does itself a tremendous disservice when it resorts to playing politics with science. It should be precisely the kind of thing that scientists of all stripes everywhere do everything they can to avoid.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644161)

A rising sea floats all boats. Subtract the mean growth and reconsider your view... RSA has missed out on the commodity boom due to investment risk aversion, and for exactly the reasons others stated. I've lived there for 37 years and left end of 2011. Now I work a mediocre job in a mediocre Australian software company, work my way through trains packed with hoons, boguns and abusive abos and drink my Fat Yak Pale ale at the end of the day and I'm grateful for it.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643581)

SA resident. Country is doing just fine. Stop spouting bullshit please.

Another SA resident. Country def. doing very well! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644047)

SA resident. Country is doing just fine. Stop spouting bullshit please.

Another SA resident. Country def. doing very well!

Re:SA too risky (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643693)

Asking ex residents is likely to get you an overly pessimistic view. I still live here, FWIW it looks as though we go through ups and downs. Sometimes it looks good, sometimes bad.

I may end up living elsewhere but that's for family reasons more than socioeconomical ones.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643839)

Exactly! Expats always try too hard to explain why they really just had to leave that place that everyone from all over the world loves going on holiday to.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39645135)

Asking current residents is likely to get you an overly optimistic view.. sooo..

Re:SA too risky (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39645275)

Not necessarily, I like to think it'd be more balanced. Many of the expats that I know were people who had just been particularly badly affected by crime or unemployment, far above the national average.

I know many that want to leave but can't afford to, and similarly many that love it here and want to stay.

Not too Risky (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39647891)

I live in Mississippi. Even as a Caucasian, I am thinking of emigrating to South Africa because it would be a step up, especially if Mr. Etch-A-Sketch gets elected. I know it to be a far friendlier place than Mississippi and in many ways far more civilized.

Re:SA too risky (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643877)

For what it's worth, my father and step-mother are in the north-eastern area of the country right now as a Peace Corps volunteer, and since they've settled in has had no real concerns about safety or riots or anything like that.

The basic problem in South Africa is that there are no jobs. And I don't mean 'no jobs' like the 20% unemployment that's common in US cities right now, I mean 'no jobs' like 80% unemployment, most people surviving off of government aid, and no startup capital available for investment. The private industries that have any presence at all in the area are tourism (hunting, safari adventures, etc), mining, and a few general stores. Now, the economy is growing, but it has a very very long way to go.

Re:SA too risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644235)

The more isolated parts of Mpumalanga are some of the least developed parts of the country, so unemployment is probably (much) higher than the large metropolitan areas. People living in some of the more isolated areas will def. appreciate any assistance from your folks.

The South African unemployment rate is currently 23.9%
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/south-africa/unemployment-rate

Check out some of our larger cities for a broader view of the country:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannesburg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Town

Re:SA too risky (1)

mauriceh (3721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39650991)

Agreed, and that is due to the fact that most international businesses and capital consider SA too risky.
Look across the border due north to Rhodesia, ahem, I mean Zimbabwe.
Look how well that worked out..

Ska should be rightfully split (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643127)

Between Jamaica and England.

Re:Ska should be rightfully split (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643181)

Orange County, California should get some credit for the third wave.

Re:Ska should be rightfully split (2)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643597)

Yep, That's the Impression That I Get.

Re:Ska should be rightfully split (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39649279)

Please excuse me, mister, you've got things all wrong.

Re:Ska should be rightfully split (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39644239)

Orange County, California should get some credit for the third wave.

At least we know who to blame for that crap.

As S.R. Hadden said... (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643327)

Why build one when you can have two for twice the price.

Re:As S.R. Hadden said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39643635)

Why build one when you can have less than two halves for four times the price.

I get it! (2)

cforciea (1926392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643691)

They are just waiting to see which country loves the telescope enough to cede ownership rather than let it be cut in half, then they will give it to that country because they must be the real, loving mother!

Re:I get it! (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643789)

They should just let the telescope decide.

Wont sombedy just think of the telescopes.

Re:I get it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39647673)

That's what she said

Perfect! (1)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643765)

Since they agree that they're split, they should build half in Cape Town and the other half in Perth. That way they can have an 8690-Kilometre Array. Unless they've already printed their SKA stationary and the cost of reprinting it as 8690KA would be prohibitive.

Bad Idea (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643843)

If they do this then the likely outcome is that SKA will never happen. This sort of "compromise" as a way of avoiding having to make an actual decision is almost always the first step in a death spiral for the project. Case in point: the Joint Dark Energy Mission [nature.com] , which crashed and burned due to pointless infighting between erstwhile collaborators on the mission.

Good grief (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643961)

Where's King Soloman [wikipedia.org] when you need him.

I'm on the fence about Australia (1)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39643967)

Apparently the government favors ISP-level censorship [slashdot.org] , and I'd be worried about our point of contact with an alien civilization being behind a filter that scrubs all evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence because the very existence of aliens is "unpatriotic" or "offensive to certain religions." On the other hand, the do have the ability to use elephants to fight invasive species [slashdot.org] . Tough call.

Gemini North / Gemini South (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39644363)

They built two to achieve coverage of the northern and southern skies.

If the loss of sensitivity is worth it, I'm not sure, but having 100% coverage of the sky is a big advantage, is it not?

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