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Arecibo Observatory Loses Funding

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the well-isn't-that-sad dept.

Science 185

An anonymous reader noted that "The Arecibo Observatory funding was slashed. Cut to $8 million from $10.5 million, which will decrease the amount of time that the telescope is operational. "A quarter of its staff was laid off last year," and Arecibo, which is located in Puerto Rico, could possibly be completely closed in four years, according to the "National Science Foundation (NSF), which pays for the operation of the telescope." This comes after "a review panel for the foundation's astronomy division two years ago" suggested cutting Arecibo's financing by 25 percent as a way to pay for new facilities. There has been "[a]n outcry" in response to the "decision, particularly from planetary scientists" who argued that the panel "overlooked Arecibo's role in cataloging potential dangers from asteroids." The Times notes that in Arecibo's favor is the fact that it "may be much cheaper to" than dismantle, which "could cost hundreds of millions of dollars."" I've been considering a vacation to PR for a few years, and seeing this thing is on my list of awesome things to try to see. Guess I should hurry ;)

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Not sad. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437381)

Why is it sad? My prayers have been answered. The government
should give that money to the churches which are in dismal financial

Science goes against the word of God Almighty.
Atheist astronomers lying to the world about looking back past
6000 years should be in mental hospitals, not spending taxpayers'
money on such nonsense.

All the answers you need are in God's writings: The Bible.
Read your bible, commit it to memory, live as an unquestioning
member of Jesus Christ's flock.

Re:Not sad. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437691)

Dude, I know you're trolling or being sarcastic, but anyone who really thinks that should read about a St Augustine who pwns you all for good.

No es bueno (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437403)

que lastima

Rob Peter to pay Paul (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437413)

I love this practice. I see it going on where I work. Pick on the weak department, which can't easily defend its funding and feather your own nest. Well, what goes around comes around.

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (5, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437477)

I hate to say it, but I have to: ONE day of deployment in Iraq would pay for this thing.

Don't blame Iraq (-1, Flamebait)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437577)

the NSF has over SIX BILLION dollars in its budget.

Iraq has nothing to do with it, raising that as an issue is just beyond ignorant.

Let that horse die.

Now as for the telescope, it would be nice to see the whole list of what NSF decided to fund

Re:Don't blame Iraq (5, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437693)

"Iraq has nothing to do with it, raising that as an issue is just beyond ignorant."

Sooo - if you're short 2 million dollars, don't look to an place where the budget is bleeding billions?

You know, a billion here and a billion there, pretty soon you're talking some real money. NASA was also just recently cutting back. Obviously we (the USA) have LOTS of cash to burn as long as it fits the correct agenda. 6 BILLION seems a lot - ever seen what the DOD gets? 440 Billion. That's a pretty large investment, I think. I would suggest that perhaps cutting them back a few billion could maybe MAYBE do some good in other sectors.

Oh, sorry. I'm spreading humainst FUD. My bad. Ignore the troubles - watch out for terrorists!

Re:Don't blame Iraq (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438159)

So lets play the "Make Believe" game:

The Hilldebeast or Barack Hussien Obama win the election. The new President pulls out the troops (leaving a failed state in the heart of the Middle East). Now we have all those billions available. Do you think the new President will:
A) Spend the money on scientific projects.
B) Spend the money on socialist welfare programs.


Re:Don't blame Iraq (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438223)

Call my cynical, but I'm going with

C) Porkbarrel projects that benefit the special interest groups

Iraq spending should cut deficit, not fund pork (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438725)

Sooo - if you're short 2 million dollars, don't look to an place where the budget is bleeding billions?

War time spending is a special circumstance, not regular funding, it is adding to the deficit. When this spending stops it should *not* be spent elsewhere, it should just stop, period. It is not a pool of new money to start dumping into various pork projects. Not that mapping asteroids is pork, but if former Iraq spending becomes permanent and diverted there other former Iraq spending will surely go to pork. It is inevitable *if* Iraq spending gets redirected to things that should be part of the regular budget.

Re:Iraq spending should cut deficit, not fund pork (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439295)

*That* is actually an extremely good point.

Of course, cutting 440 billion of budgeted DOD spending by a few billion would be a great way to address it :)

Re:Don't blame Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21439195)

If you are looking for where we are bleeding the most don't look at defense look at entitlements...

Entitlement spending 56%
  - Social Security 21%
  - Income Security Programs 13%
  - Health 10%
  - Medicare 12%

Defense spending 21%

I believe the constitution talks about providing for the common defense... I don't find health care, social security, or income security in there...

Uh... (4, Insightful)

wurp (51446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437705)

The whole National Science Foundation has a $6 billion budget, but we spend $75 billion a year (off budget, mind you, that's not counting the $400 billion a year we spend on defense) on a war that does nothing but foment hatred against the US?

I think our (and your) priorities are a bit off.

Re:Uh... (-1, Troll)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437821)

does nothing but foment hatred against the US?
So join the other half of the population that isn't hating.

Re:Uh... (2, Informative)

wurp (51446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437901)

What are you talking about? First, it foments hatred mostly among non-USians, primarily among Iraqis. Second, I didn't say I hated anyone - it sure seems to me that it's the guys advocating killing that are the haters.

What kind of screwy world do we live in where advocacy of turning our money from bullets & choppers toward scientific research qualifies one as hating?

Re:Uh... (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437949)

Exactly how does that solve the problem of most other countries seeing through the blind nationalism of the half of the country that worships the flag rather than a mainstream religion?

I mean seriously, the nationalists are the biggest threat to America's well being, joining them isn't going to solve the problems that ignorance of science and international politics brings.

I'm not trolling here, I am genuinely curious as to how further weakening our reputation in the international community is going to lead to the international community loving us.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21439269)

I agree with you and I am sorry for this matter as well.

However this looks like a "recently expired warranty", as soon as you decommission the telescope some weird asteroid comes up and wipes our fears (and humanity) off from the blue planet surface. ...God forbid...

Re:Don't blame Iraq (5, Insightful)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437909)

SIX BILLION dollars is a pathetic amount of money for research

NSF funds programs in biology, math, CS, engineering, geosciences, physics and astronomy, education, and sociology. So, that's probably less than ONE BILLION dollars per subject. So, we spend the same amount of money for one day in Iraq than a year's worth of physics research.

It's commonly accepted that general research pushes technological boundaries back which can drive research in the economy. So, if we are an "idea based economy", we had better invest in infrastructure.

Re:Don't blame Iraq (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438089)

Iraq has nothing to do with it, raising that as an issue is just beyond ignorant.
So you're saying that the money that was literally wasted in Iraq couldn't have been used to fund the observatory? Because that's ignorant. I'm not talking about the money that was spent on the Iraqi war effort as wasted, I'm referring to the pallets full of American currency which have yet to be accounted for. I don't have specific information that the money is in terrorist hands, but since nobody knows where it is, that is a definite possibility.

I do think that security in Iraq could have been improved had that money been sent to scientific researchers, even ones that don't work for DARPA, than allowing the money to possibly end up in the hands of terrorists.

Re:Don't blame Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438471)

I don't consider the money spent on the war wasted. This war was the best thing to happen to some of us. My country fighting against terrorism has paid for my new house and a condo in Florida.

Robbing Arecibo to pay for ALMA (5, Informative)

sgrandi (725424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438125)

The NSF Astronomy Division convened a "Senior Review" [] to try and see where money could be saved to pay for the enormous operating costs of ALMA [] which is the Atacama Large Millimeter Array. ALMA will be an array of some 64 12-meter antennas operated at an elevation of 5000 m (16,000+ ft). ALMA is a collaboration between the Europeans, Japan, Chile and the US.

Arecibo was a loser in the Senior Review; something has to give to pay for ALMA operations!

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (1)

vondo (303621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437611)

And about every other science project cancelled under this administration. Iraq costs us about $1 billion/day.

I've been to Arecibo. It was cool to look at, but at that point about the only thing they had for the public was a couple of posters. I hear that since then they've made a small visitor center. I think it is about an hour off of any main road through twisting, turning roads.

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (5, Insightful)

MrKevvy (85565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438155)

"I hate to say it, but I have to: ONE day of deployment in Iraq would pay for this thing."

I hate to correct your being off by over an order of magnitude... 90 minutes of Iraq war would pay for the whole budget [] and 20 minutes would pay for how much was just cut from it.

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438939)

In case your version of news hasn't covered it, there isn't much of a "war" actually going on. In fact, large portions of Iraq are extremely peaceful. I'm sick and tired of people, even those that support operations in Iraq, calling it a "war".

Right now, it is an occupation by invitation of the Iraqi government. While I'm not a big fan of this occupation, things do seem to be settling down, something you're not going to see on CSPAN, CBS and CNN, anytime soon.

And besides, the whole (R) wars bad, (D) wars good (or visa versa) theology is mind numbing. And yes, it borders upon religious (on both sides).

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (2, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439077)

In case your version of news hasn't covered it, there isn't much of a "war" actually going on. In fact, large portions of Iraq are extremely peaceful.

Whatever it is, it's extremely expensive, and we have better things to do. When we leave, it will take about six months for Iraq to return to the same condition it was in when we found it (ruled by a dictator) or worse (all-out civil war).

Knowledge gained at Arecibo and similar facilities lasts forever.

So what's a better investment?

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438655)

I hate to say it, but I have to: ONE day of deployment in Iraq would pay for this thing.

I wish the war in Iraq only cost that much...

We could make up the entire 2.5 million shortfall by putting the war in Iraq on hold for a mere five minutes. Yes, five minutes - It costs us $500k per minute we spend pissing around in the sandbox. We could pay the entire Aricebo budget simply by giving our soldiers an extra smoke-break tomorrow (yes, I know it doesn't work that simply, but you get the idea).

But hey, what do we care about mere extinction when those dirty arabs still pollute the holy land by their mere presence?

Re:Rob Peter to pay Paul (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439039)

A day of deployment could probably fund a couple Arecibos for years.

For a week of deployment, you could even build a second one, including building the volcano and digging a crater to go under the dish.

And yes. While the NSF may have huge funds available, this war is, perhaps, the most stupid war ever fought. And keep in mind wars are usually a very stupid thing to do.

The US could as well invade Mexico, as they are every bit as guilty of building WMDs and of harboring terrorists as Iraq was and, all the more convenient, they are a lot closer. I bet they would not even resist much.

Right now, leaving Iraq would be even more irresponsible than invading it was - they would plunge (even more) into chaos and civil war and a theocracy that builds WMDs, harbors terrorists and has a very understandable grudge against the US would certainly emerge.

Cutting funding is not always bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437455)

It's high time some of these scientists learn to sugar their own churros.

007 (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437471)

I thought Bond already destroyed that thing?

Arecibo photo (4, Informative)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437487)

FYI, Wikipedia has a fantastic hi-res image of the radio telescope [] .

Fucking overspending liberals! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437617)

Dear Slashdot,

You liberals have always been complaining about lack of funding to these useless programs. What the fuck can you do with a telescope? Look at vacant planets? Liberals and scientific liberals want us to fund pointless stuff. We have been pumping nearly as much into NASA as our much more important defense and we have nothing to show for it. NOTHING! No flying cars, no vacations on foreign planets. What a waste of money! Also, liberals force us to go through Algebra and other useless math. I don't need to know math, we have fucking calculators! Doing math is like walking to the store: Pointless! Then we have all the liberals taking away my right to eat whatever food I want! What if I don't care about my weight?! Fuck you nanny-state liberals! I say we get rid of science, math, and English in high school. All we need is shop class and a class on why liberals suck. Academics is for people who can't. Also, why do we have to have a constitution that fucks up our country from having the best leader forever? Fuck FDR's amendment, I want Bush to serve as long as a judge! We need to extend into other countries so we can ensure our domination in oil pricing via petrodollar warfare. LOL, I don't even know what's over there. Africa and Canada are beside the U.K., right?

Very truly yours,
Republican from Alabama who hates Top Gear and loves Nascar

Re:Arecibo photo (1)

grotgrot (451123) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438073)

You can also watch the James Bond film, Goldeneye.

Re:Arecibo photo (1)

_J_ (30559) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438907)

the closeup from Google Maps [] is kind of cool, too.

Message from the NWO conspiracy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437567)

Stop looking for aliens.

There are no aliens, and if there were, they would hate your freedom. You are helping the terrorists by looking for aliens. The aliens like Hitler and Mussolini, and they drive slowly on toll roads. You do not want to look for the nonexistent aliens.

We will slash your funding until you stop looking for aliens. After that, we will tie you down with rules that drive you to suicide through boredom. So stop looking for aliens.

There is no NWO conspiracy, by the way. It's all an illusion created by the Aliens, who hate our freedom.

Worth it (3, Informative)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437579)

I've been considering a vacation to PR for a few years, and seeing this thing is on my list of awesome things to try to see. Guess I should hurry ;)

I was actually there in early 2006, and I have to say it was really well worth it. It's hard to put into words how HUGE it is. The attached Museum is also quite nice- it even includes a small sliver of the moon [] , which was a bonus for me.

unless there is some other technology that comes along and blows this telescope out of the water, it really is in our best interests to keep it running.

Not really...Re:Worth it (1)

Ang31us (1132361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437789)

I'm a SCIENCE NUT and a Puerto Rican. I love the island I'm from and adore its people, culture, natural resources, and sights. That said, my trip to Arecibo was a total waste of time. I got to see a big satellite that I had already seen in a James Bond movie.

It was a big yawhn for me...not worth the trip to the mountain or the ride up. It was basically dead -- no museum, very little information, no exhibit of the discoveries, just a tiny exhibit with some old radio equipment. These people really need to learn how to show off their work to their visitors.

They should definitely keep the observatory open if it is useful to the scientists using it, but as a visitor there are definitely a thousand things I can do in Puerto Rico that are more fun than looking at a big huge dish.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437945)

They should definitely keep the observatory open if it is useful to the scientists using it, but as a visitor there are definitely a thousand things I can do in Puerto Rico that are more fun than looking at a big huge dish.

You can hand in your geek card on the way out the door.

Re:Obligatory (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438101)

That would be like myself saying, "Yeah, I visted Cape Canaveral. The visitor area sucked, and all I got to see was a ball of fire race 220 miles into orbit." Hand his geek card in indeed.

ignorant knowledge leads to misinformation (5, Insightful)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438081)

Otro Puertorro ignorante...

I have to say your comment is very ignorant, specially because you are form the island, you should know how some things are just tourist traps. But there is a lot of things to do at the radar if you know how to look at it. For example, there is this nature tourist group called Aventuras Tierra Adentro (Adventures in the Motherland), that will take you around, and under the radar, not only seeing the technological wonder the Observatory is, but how it was constructed, why they chose the Arecibo Valley to place its location and more importantly how has the vegetation and fauna of the area has been affected by its presence.

More importantly why is the observatory so important to Science, and how powerful the observatory really is compared to other radio telescopes.

Further more, I don't know where you went, but the museum on the top of the hill inside the observatory has the basic information for the radar. There is a movie theater where they run a documentary of the radar, its location and how it was constructed. Also the discoveries they have made using the Radar are displayed in the museum. The old radio equipment they are exhibiting there goes to show what they were using back in the day to do what the radar does now. Aside from that, the radar received an overhaul recently. Its actual transmiting time of information towards outerspace is of minutes and the retrieval of data is also in minutes compared to the observatory in New Mexico which takes 12 hours to receive or send any kind of data to outerspace.

Granted the observatory is not a place to take 30 family members with noisy children. Its a hike, and if you are not in shape, granted you will need a breather when you get on top. But it is not a bad experience or one that makes you feel you wasted your time going to. It is located in a beautiful valley, lots of nice restaurants around, great view, the trip is not so bad and if you finish early, you can always head out for the West Coast and have some Mojitos and seafood in Rincon. ;)

I can tell you all this because I recently (from oct 16 to oct 31 2007) went to Puerto Rico and took my fiancee with me. She is North American and she was fascinated with the radar and how impressive it is. She is not as big of a Nerd/Geek like I am, but she was able to appreciate the wonder it is.

You should be proud this technological wonder is sitting in the mountains of the country you love so much. To me its always been one of those things that should be considered a Wonder of the World, because its simply humbles you as a human being to look at one of the modern marvels we have constructed in our time.

Or you are not as much of a Science Nut as you think you are... :o

Re:Not really...Re:Worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438145)

You sad git.

Re:Not really...Re:Worth it (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438157)

And you call yourself a SCIENCE NUT? Tras que ignorante no eres Nerd un carajo... Jajaja que mamon..

Re: Depends...Re:Not really...Re:Worth it (1)

deadfsh (1192465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438231)

I have been there at least 5 times and now I just skip the museum and look at the dish.(you have to pay admission for the Museum) The view there is quite amazing and there is a relaxing breeze.
Reading Rainbow did a show there and Geordi LaForge... I mean LaVar Burton got to walk on the dish and under the dish.
His access to the site and general visitors lack of access is the biggest disappointment. You can't go to the labs, you can't walk around. (Under the dish there is a greenhouse) You can't see them actually working. This no-doubt is due to the limited funding and security.
Overall, it is still a good trip (including the scenic drive there) and I will probably go again to show it to someone else, but I won't go otherwise. (Unless they add the things I mentioned)

The Previous poster probably suffers from I live here syndrome(IE. NYC and the empire state building)

My Grandparents live in nearby Manati.

Re: Depends...Re:Not really...Re:Worth it (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438465)

The museum is not a necesary item when you go up there... the sellout is just the amazing view and like you said the drive there is very nice.

I bet you don't know what other plants they have in that greenhouse... ;)

But I don't blame them not being able to show you how they work. I mean they are located on the antenna suspended over the dish... and other parts as well.

The funding for this, doesnt come from the PR Goverment. It comes from US Federal Grants... so unless the US releases more money there is nothing the PR government can do. Besides their hands are tied with the IBU and other shit...

Superseded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437583)

The fact is that large terrestrial telescopes (radio or optical) have been superseded by advances in technology and things like distributed arrays can do more for less money.

Eleanor Arroway (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437591)

Needs to not mouth off to the national science director about her space alien theories. []

Call Paul Allen (1)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437599)

Just sell the sucker for pennies on the dollar.

I'm sure Paul Allen could use a giant radio telescope to supplement his array [] . Just use a little e-VBLI [] , and you got a pretty nice addition. And if you don't want it full time, I bet many a hobbyist/small research institution would having the option to get radio telescope time instead of the typical optical rent-a-internet-telescope business.

Picture... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437605)

The closure is sad.

I've been considering a vacation to PR for a few years, and seeing this thing is on my list of awesome things to try to see. Guess I should hurry ;)

Clearly this is not a vacation, but here's a picture once you're up there. []

Man this one broke my heart to hear (2, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437609)

It seems insane to end such a cost effective program but government rarely makes sense. I guess they could change their program to search for proof the Universe is 6,000 years old then do real science in a clandestined manner like it was done 800 years ago. How far we've come.

Re:Man this one broke my heart to hear (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438413)

I guess they could change their program to search for proof the Universe is 6,000 years old then do real science in a clandestined manner like it was done 800 years ago.

Care to show me where one nickle of tax money is going to prove ID?

This kind of bullshit only gets modded up because of a whole boatload of malcontents on here who think that any shift in funding is automatically done by the religious right. That's complete and total nonsense. Your little meme is old and untrue. If anything it should be modded down as -1 misinformation.

Is this a parting shot for Bush who'd like to (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438527)

spend ALL of the tax dollars on killing people and blowing up shit?

Seeing as how the man's such a scientific ignoramous, maybe we could tell him that its actually necessary for a continental anti-terrorist defense that's based off-shore but would still be under our control.

And just to seal the deal, triple the operational budget.

Re:Man this one broke my heart to hear (1)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439267)

Even better. We need to find some security-minded application for this observatory and sell that angle to get more funding. Say we can use it to scan for enemy satellites or point it at the border to look for people crossing over and threatening our homeland. As with all such programs, results aren't important so the observatory can just use the money for something silly and whimsical like science.

I visted on my Honeymoon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437623)

Arecibo is a pretty impressive radio telescope! I figure the local Puerto Rican govenment will keep Arecibo going. In addition to it's science uses it's a somewhat popular tourist site in PR.

If this causes a decrease in alarmism ... (2, Funny)

funkman (13736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437625)

If this causes a decrease in "asteroid to swing by the earth within 10 million KM 90 years from now" stories - I'm all for cutting the funding.

Well, if an asteroid is going to hit the earth ... (1)

krygny (473134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437631)

... I'd prefer NOT to know about it than to know about it.

So I'm happy.

Re:Well, if an asteroid is going to hit the earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438053)

Do you look both ways when crossing the street?

Re:Well, if an asteroid is going to hit the earth (1)

Matteo522 (996602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439049)

If I was uncontrollably pulled by gravity across the street, I probably wouldn't look both ways. My time would be better spent thinking of happy things than "OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO DIE!!!"

Re:Well, if an asteroid is going to hit the earth (1)

phoebusQ (539940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438985)

Well SOMEONE has to notify Bruce Willis.

Re:Well, if an asteroid is going to hit the earth (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439057)

Not all meteors nee asteroid are earth-destroying. Some of them are just earth-messing-up-a-lot. If you know when (and where) it's going to hit, you can plan your day to either avoid those parts of the world or specifically be in the projected impact zone.

Re:Well, if an asteroid is going to hit the earth (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439283)


        buy the mother in law a surprise vacation.

Vacation (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437669)

I've been considering a vacation to PR for a few years, and seeing this thing is on my list of awesome things to try to see. Guess I should hurry ;)

I'll bet many of the scientists who pulled that gig considered it a vacation too!

Re:Vacation (1)

Faw (33935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437797)

It's not a vacation if you actually live here. :)

Funny thing is I've lived here all my life and never been to the Arecibo observatory.

WTF (5, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437687)

Arecibo is not simply looking for SETI. It is one of the most sensitive Radio telescopes in the world, and has a good list of Astronomic discoveries [] under its belt:

# The first planets outside the solar system were discovered around Pulsar B1257+12, a rapidly rotating pulsar with three Earth-like planets in orbit. ( early 1990s )

# One of its first accomplishments: Establishing the rotating rate of Mercury, which turned out to be 59 days rather than the previously estimated 88 days ( 1965 ).

# Detailed maps of the distribution of galaxies in the universe ( late 1980s ).

# The first pulsar in a binary system was discovered ( 1974 ), leading to important confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity and a Nobel Prize for astronomers Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor ( 1993 ).

# Investigations of ice craters at the polar regions of the planet Mercury with the radar system ( 1990s ) and similar investigation of the lunar poles for evidence of ice ( 1997 ).

# Provided much of our pre-Magellan mission knowledge of the surface of Venus via 1.5 km resolution imagery of the surface through the planet's cloud cover using the radar system.

# The observatory has made major contributions to our understanding of the chemistry and dynamics of the Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere.

# Discovery of two classes of pulsars: millisecond pulsars, which rotate several hundred times per second, and slower-rotating pulsars, which rotate about once per second. The slow-rotating pulsars speed through space, while millisecond pulsars move slowly through space.

Closing down Arecibo would be like closing down the Fermi Lab particle accelerator to Particle Physics. Its A MASSIVE asset to the Radio Astronomy field, and this short sidedness to get a few measly million (when compared to the countless millions allocated to other projects) is Absurd

Re:WTF (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437965)

Closing down Arecibo would be like closing down the Fermi Lab particle accelerator to Particle Physics
Great! Thanks for the neato idea!

Best Regards,

W. and Dick.

Re:WTF (2, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438057)

"Closing down Arecibo would be like closing down the Fermi Lab particle accelerator to Particle Physics."

Unless they decide to build the ILA at Fermilab, it will probably be shut down in the not too distant future. I think they now have some Neutrino experiments scheduled out to 2011, but past that nothing.

Re:WTF (1)

Falstius (963333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438205)

Actually, I think Fermilab is closing down, or at least the accelerator part of it, in just another year or two.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438689)

The word is "sightedness", short sighted, not short sided.

Skate park (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437713)

I for one hope it will be converted into a skate park!

Charity? (4, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437741)

I never thought that we would start needing charities to fund astronimcal science, but maybe it is time? It doesn't help that people think NASA is better funded than it is [] . Maybe there needs to be a campaign illustrating this, as a form of hitting people with the clue stick.

Re:Charity? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438899)

Astronomy has long been supported by charity. That's how most telescopes prior to the Second World War were funded. And obviously SETI is currently funded that way. I think for a number of long term tasks (like searching for intelligent extra-terrestrial life) the charity/non-profit model works better than funding from government.

It would be a shame.... (3, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437749)

to lose something so precious over so little money. With all the billionaires running around, someone should step up and pledge the money to keep Arecibo online.

It is one of the greatest technological wonders... (5, Interesting)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437755)

I am from Puerto Rico. And it has been my absolute favorite technological wonder mankind has ever built. I dont know how many of you have actually seen it. It is simply amazing. I used to go there since I was a kid around the age of 16... I started going with my father at least 1 weekend a month, then with my boyscout troop we would do a hike that would end in the forest next to the radar. I even had the opportunity once to go where the radar itself is, in that dwindling pendulum up above the Dish. A lot of people have had to see it from the "tourist trap" point of view from the top of the observatory road. But as a boyscout we found a way around that sits us right on the dish. The thing is huge, and the 3 towers that hold the antenna's are simply impressive.

One of the most interesting things I admire about it, is that Puerto Rico has the worst hurricane season's ever, and that thing has hold several Cat 5 hurricanes without having a glitch damaged.

Cmdr Taco should defenitely go see it before its shutdown and abandoned... In fact he should organize a slashdot tour and while the tour guide is explaining mumbo jumbo, someone should connect a linux terminal somewhere and use it to transmit some slashdot to outerspace... :) that or use the dish for some gnarly skatebording contest... ;)

Jokes aside, I am really sad they are loosing funding. US Government should end their investment in the stupid war and drop some money in science for a change... I bet a whatever 1 month costs Congress the war, would put the observatory running for another 5 years or more.

PS. There is a village about 5 miles behind the observartory where they make the meanest Skirt Steak you can eat and one of the meanest moonshines you could drink... :)

The war in iraq costs 200M PER DAY (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437833)

One DAY of war funding could fund the telescope for 20 years (at last years 10M/year rate). You're off by a factor of 120 or so.

Sick, isn't it.

Re:The war in iraq costs 200M PER DAY (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438273)

So its costing 6 billion per month... damn... which is 72billion per year...

And how much the radar has per year? 8.8million? like i said... stop the war and a lot of people will have homes, a cure for cancer will be found and we can save a radar and a couple of whales...

Re:The war in iraq costs 200M PER DAY (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438739)

Umm before the war even under a different administration we did not have any of the things you speak of. The money will be waisted either way. It will either go to special interest groups or to fund the next war, or the next new bomber or a congressman trip to Hawaii on a government plane with protection provided by the secret service. Look it would be nice to fund the Radar but that is the last thing on peoples list. It is sad but it is true. Hell Bush wants the US to go back to the moon, but we can not get congress to give them enough money. Science is the last thing on peoples list. That is why most of the research etc is done by private funding etc.

Re:It is one of the greatest technological wonders (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438455)

US Government should end their investment in the stupid war and drop some money in science for a change...

I will admit the war is costly however maybe you do not know how much the US puts into "science" or do you mean we do not put enough? So lets break it down:
So while the US may not give enough money to specific scientific areas that you wish we would. The US does contribute a lot of money to other areas such as military research, space exploration, and funding to UN. On top of that 9 times out of ten when there is a conflict anywhere in the world involving the UN, or NATO, it is the American military on the ground and in the air. When a hurricane hits the US government sends relief. Yeah we probably should not be in Iraq because the US did not find WMD's, but when the Iraqi people were cheering when US tanks rolled into Baghdad that says something. Yes the government may not be fully matured yet, and sectarian violence may be a problem. In the end if the US does stay for the long haul and Iraq can get a democracy setup and violence lowers will it all be worth it? Or do you think the US should have stayed out of Germany in WWII because it was Japan that attacked the US? I think when it comes to Iraq you need to step back and think "If my country was like Iraq under Sadam would I pray that a country with enough balls would help me out?" So in a nut shell...fuck off

Re:It is one of the greatest technological wonders (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438599)

so in a nutshell fuck off?

no no no... :) you fuck off...

Re:It is one of the greatest technological wonders (1)

Faw (33935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438585)

I'm from Puerto Rico too, can you mention which Cat5 hurricanes have passed through here? I must have miss them. Georges and Hugo were Cat 3 and AFAIK those 2 were the only ones where the eye touched land.

Strategery.. (1)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437761)

You gotta understand the Bush administration!

Out of that $8million in funding, spend $1million lobbying to Bush/Hillary/Guilliani Co. to get asteroids labeled as 'trrrrerist threats.' Then, declare that you plan to eavsdrop on all asteroid activity under a contract with Haliburton. Now, contact Haliburton and tell them you will do trrrrerist hunting for $50million/year. Haliburton will ask for $100million/year from the US gov't. Boom.. the Fed will print more money!

If that doesn't work..

Spend another $1million lobbying the other Republicrats.. and declare that by spending $50million to paint the observatory green, it will save like $4 in energy costs per year.

or do both..

Underfunded? Help! (0, Troll)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437771)

So the scientists say that their favorite toy is underfunded? Maybe they should help fund it a bit, then. That's the way everything else in the world works, isn't it? If you use it, you pay for it.

Yes, technically it is 'used' by everyone, so everyone should pay for it. But in reality only the scientists have any direct access to it, and we have to hope what they are doing is worthwhile.

Instead of funding the telescope, how about we fund the scientists that are doing things we want done, and THEY use their funding to rent the 'scope, funding it via projects that people find worthwhile.

I have a feeling this would actually mean that the 'scope gets less funding, showing just exactly how much these scientists value their toy.

Re:Underfunded? Help! (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437961)

The problem with renting research facilities is that the people with the best and most innovative research proposals are often too poor to pay the fees. Cost recovery sounds great on paper. It often doesn't work as intended in the real world.

Re:Underfunded? Help! (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438407)


Under your proposal:

Funding from the public: basic science 0.001% of budget, ways to develop new more toxic and disposable plastic garbage %9.999, new fancier versions of viagra an dick extension procedures 90%.

Funding from the governments: ways to wage war on everybody and everything while enriching one's cronies, 100% of the "science" budget.

Funding from the religious wackos: ways to prove science does not work and if it does, the Universe is 600 year old and the Earth is flat, 100% of the budget.

I can't wait for your proposal to be adopted.


Going Away? I don't think so (1)

blantonl (784786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437779)

I've been considering a vacation to PR for a few years, and seeing this thing is on my list of awesome things to try to see. Guess I should hurry ;)
The loss of funding to operate the place isn't going to result in the earth swallowing up the place and it disappearing. If anything, you'll probably have an easier time actually seeing the place as you would like to.

Re:Going Away? I don't think so (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438139)

As much as I would like to one day walk across the dish holding my child's hand explaining what great things it has uncovered, I'd prefer it stay in operation and keep investigating the cosmos.

"Bush administration is ruining science!" - morons (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21437829)

Yes lets continue to dump money into an aging system instead of developing a new one. Stop being nostalgic about a lab instrument you idiots, this isn't about religious freaks its about phasing out old equipment.

Re:"Bush administration is ruining science!" - mor (1)

Count_Froggy (781541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439051)

It is a lot easier to achieve cost overruns that the government will pay for if you don't have a history of operating costs! New projects/new facilities are the way to get more money. The game is simple; your status in the government is measured on how much you overrun your budget - the more the better.

don't worry (1)

moondo (177508) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437855)

when there's nowhere else to look for hope.. in despair we'll turn to the stars.

stop whining (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437859)

Barrack wants to cut NASA's budget even more than it already is and Barrack is the youtube generation's candidate. Just eat the budget cuts and tow the party line.

The section of the NSF report (5, Informative)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437871)

Sorry for the long post, but this section of the NSF report [] has more information than the Times article.

Note that there is a report due in December on the cost of decommissioning the telescope and that Cornell is working with the Puerto Rican government to find ways to fill in the funding gap.

* National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC)/Arecibo - Cornell acted quickly to implement the first of the Senior Review's recommendations to reduce the base operating budget to $8M over the next three years, by modifying the operating mode for astronomy observations, increasing the fraction of time for survey work, and limiting the number of receivers supported and the number of hours for astronomy observations. They also eliminated 30 FTEs, or 25% of their staff. Not all of these savings are realizable immediately, since personnel termination costs must be covered and the observatory requires basic maintenance to ensure safety of operations. By FY 2010, the full $2.5 million savings identified by the Senior Review will be recovered into the AST base budget and available for other uses.

Cornell has said that it will cease operations of the planetary radar in October 2007 to meet these budget reductions. We have recently learned that, in fact, they are maintaining the capability to operate the planetary radar, although on a less frequent schedule. In conversations with NASA management, it has been made clear that NASA has no intention of resuming support of the planetary radar, which they terminated in FY 2006.

With NSF's encouragement and support, Cornell and Arecibo staff are actively pursuing partnerships with the Puerto Rican government, local businesses, and academic institutions to provide additional operations support by 2011. We recently visited Puerto Rico, held a town hall for the Arecibo community, and met with commonwealth officials, business leaders, representatives from the universities and concerned citizens. We clarified the Senior Review recommendations and NSF's role in supporting the observatory and helped foster discussions among the many parties interested in maintaining the observatory as a viable operating facility for scientific research, education, and public outreach. The meetings were very positive with many expressions of a desire to work together to identify creative solutions to obtaining additional support. Many challenges face Cornell in preparing a plan for sustained long-term support from non-AST sources. I am optimistic that such a plan can be put together. NSF has informed Cornell that a concrete plan for operations in 2011 and beyond must be in place by spring of 2009. It is at that point that NSF must set the FY 2011 budget and so make a decision about the long-term future of Arecibo.

Nonetheless, in order to plan responsibly, and weigh the various options, we have to understand the cost of closure to be weighed against other options. As recommended by the Senior Review, NSF is also engaging an engineering firm to carry out a study of the cost of decommissioning the observatory facility. The study will explore a variety of possible endpoints, ranging from complete deconstruction and restoration of the site to its natural state to securely 'mothballing' the facility. The results of this study will be available in December 2007 and will serve as critical input to our planning for the long-term future of the observatory. This is part of responsible lifecycle costing, and should not be regarded as indicating that any final decisions have been made.

National Security. (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 6 years ago | (#21437963)

If we say that it plays a role in our National Security because it's used to intercept foreign terrorist transmissions, they'll have their funding and then some.

Source of funds (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438015)

Just go to S.R. Hadden for the money. He's good for it.

Don't need no science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438111)

What has this waste of funds done for us? Has it put food on the table or helped my multinational company (it makes defence stuff). I hear that those crazies looking for aliens even use it. Everyone knows that the Earth wont be hit by a large asteroid for another million years, so why should we have to worry about looking at them using this huge waste of funds.

All this money spent on seince doesnt get us anything. We need to spend more on roads and the war but that seince is a total waste.

Privatize? (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438219)

Another option might be to put the facility up for sale and see if any private universities or other governments want to buy or lease the facility. Granted there would be no guarantee that research data gained would remain in the public domain, but at least someone would be using the facility. Plus it would make on heck of an evil lair...

FUDdy duddy? (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438235)

Arecibo Observatory Loses Funding
No, it was cut about 25%. If it lost funding, it would have zero funding.

The Arecibo Observatory funding was slashed.
No, it was cut about 25%, it's still at $8 million. I suppose next time I trip and fall I can describe it as me "plummeting towards the ground."

This comes after "a review panel for the foundation's astronomy division two years ago" suggested cutting Arecibo's financing by 25 percent as a way to pay for new facilities
So it was cut so we could get new stuff? How do we know the new stuff isn't going to be good? I guess the quarter of the staff that was laid off would, shockingly, have someplace new to work.

Guess I should hurry
Yup, because not only is it going to be closed for sure, but the evil government lackeys will fill in the crater upon which it was built. With concrete. And then put some Walmarts on it.

There's a lot of events in scientific funding that are a damn shame but this one really isn't that horrible. There really is no need to FUD this one up.

Re:FUDdy duddy? (4, Funny)

Jester998 (156179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438425)

Slashdotter Involved in Fatal(*) Plummet

Applekid, a long time Slashdot poster, plummeted to earth earlier today. He was last heard from criticizing the Slashdot editors(**). An anonymous poster who was apparently a witness to the scene describe is as "horrific. These guys in black suits came up and pushed him to the ground. I think I saw blood on his knee!"

The incident is being investigated by the Slashdot Lynch Mob in an effort to find those responsible.

(*) For certain values of "fatal"
(**) For certain values of "edit".

Bullshit detected in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21438441)

Something else may also weigh in Arecibo's favor: it may be much cheaper to keep it open. To dismantle the telescope and return the area to a natural state could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Complete and utter bullshit.

A scrap metal recovery / demolition team could rip the whole thing out of there for a few hundred thousand dollars and nature itself will return the area to a "natural state" in a very few years.

Arecibo Observatory General Information (0, Redundant)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438519)

I got this from wikipedia, [] , but thought it would be useful for people that don't know much about it.

General Information

The Arecibo telescope is distinguished by its enormous size: the main collecting dish is 305 m in diameter, constructed inside the depression left by a karst sinkhole. The dish is the largest curved focusing dish on Earth, giving Arecibo the largest electromagnetic-wave gathering capacity. The Arecibo telescope's dish surface is made of 38,778 perforated aluminum panels, each measuring about 1 m by 2 m (3 ft by 6 ft), supported by a mesh of steel cables.

It is a spherical reflector (as opposed to a parabolic reflector). This form is due to the method used to aim the telescope: the telescope's dish is fixed in place, but the receiver at its focal point is repositioned to intercept signals reflected from different directions by the spherical dish surface. The receiver is located on a 900-ton platform which is suspended 150 m (450 ft) in the air above the dish by 18 cables running from three reinforced concrete towers, one of which is 110 m (365 ft) high and the other two of which are 80 m (265 ft) high (the tops of the three towers are at the same elevation). The platform has a 93 m long rotating bow-shaped track called the azimuth arm on which receiving antennae, secondary and tertiary reflectors are mounted. This allows the telescope to observe any region of the sky within a forty degree cone of visibility about the local zenith (between -1 and 38 degrees of declination). Puerto Rico's location near the equator allows Arecibo to view all of the planets in the solar system, though the round trip light time to objects beyond Saturn is longer than the time the telescope can track it, preventing radar observations of more distant objects.

The construction of the Arecibo telescope was initiated by Professor William E. Gordon of Cornell University, who originally intended to use it for the study of Earth's ionosphere. Originally, a fixed parabolic reflector was envisioned, pointing in a fixed direction with a 150 m (500 ft) tower to hold equipment at the focus. This design would have had a very limited use for other potential areas of research, such as planetary science and radio astronomy, which require the ability to point at different positions in the sky and to track those positions for an extended period as Earth rotates. Ward Low of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) pointed out this flaw, and put Gordon in touch with the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) in Boston, Massachusetts where a group headed by Phil Blacksmith was working on spherical reflectors and another group was studying the propagation of radio waves in and through the upper atmosphere. Cornell University proposed the project to ARPA in the summer of 1958 and a contract was signed between the AFCRL and the University in November of 1959. Cornell University published a request for proposals (RFP) asking for a design to support a feed moving along a spherical surface 435 feet (133 m) above the stationary reflector. The RFP suggested a tripod or a tower in the center to support the feed. George Doundoulakis, director of research for the antenna design company General Bronze Corp in Garden City, N.Y. received the RFP from Cornell and studied it with his brother, Helias Doundoulakis, a civil engineer.

The two brothers thought of a more efficient way to suspend the feed, and finally designed the cable suspension system that was used in final construction. U.S. Patent office granted Helias Doundoulakis patent No. 3,273,156 on Sept. 13, 1966 with the title "Radio Telescope having a scanning feed supported by a cable suspension over a stationary reflector".

Construction began in the summer of 1960, with the official opening taking place on November 1, 1963. As the primary dish is spherical, its focus is along a line rather than at a single point (as would be the case for a parabolic reflector), thus complicated 'line feeds' had to be used to carry out observations. Each line feed covered a narrow frequency band (2-5% of the center frequency of the band) and a limited number of line feeds could be used at any one time, limiting the flexibility of the telescope.

The telescope has undergone several significant upgrades over its lifespan. The first major upgrade was in 1974 when a high precision surface was added for the current reflector. In 1997 a Gregorian reflector system was installed, incorporating secondary and tertiary reflectors to focus the radio waves at a single point. This allowed the installation of a suite of receivers, covering the whole 1-10 GHz range, that could be easily moved onto the focal point, giving Arecibo a flexibility it had not previously possessed. At the same time a ground screen was installed around the perimeter to prevent receivers from sensing the ground (which, due to its temperature, would make observations less sensitive) and a more powerful transmitter was installed.


The Arecibo telescope has made many significant scientific discoveries. On 7 April 1964, shortly after its inauguration, Gordon H. Pettengill's team used it to determine that the rotation rate of Mercury was not 88 days, as previously thought, but only 59 days. In 1968, the discovery of the periodicity of the Crab Pulsar (33 ms) by Lovelace and others provided the first solid evidence that neutron stars exist in the Universe. In 1974 Hulse and Taylor discovered the first binary pulsar PSR B1913+16, for which they were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1982, the first millisecond pulsar, PSR J1937+21, was discovered by Don Backer, Shri Kulkarni and others. This object spins 642 times per second, and it was until 2005 the fastest-spinning pulsar known.

In August 1989, the observatory directly imaged an asteroid for the first time in history: asteroid 4769 Castalia. The following year, Polish astronomer Aleksander Wolszczan made the discovery of pulsar PSR B1257+12, which later led him to discover its three orbiting planets (and a possible comet). These were the first extra-solar planets ever discovered. In 1994, John Harmon used the Arecibo radio telescope to map the distribution of ice in the poles of Mercury.

Other usage

The telescope also had military intelligence uses, for example locating Soviet radar installations by detecting their signals bouncing back off the Moon. Arecibo is also the source of data for the SETI@home distributed computing project put forward by the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and was used for the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix observations.

In 1974, the Arecibo message, an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life, was transmitted from the radio telescope toward the globular cluster M13, about 25,000 light-years away. The 1,679 bit pattern of 1s and 0s defined a 23 by 73 pixel bitmap image that included numbers, stick figures, chemical formulas, and a crude image of the telescope itself.

Terrestrial aeronomy experiments include the controversial (Ruiz 1998) Coqui 2 experiment (Friedlander 1997).

Funding issues

A report by the division of Astronomical Sciences of the National Science Foundation[1], made public on 2006-11-03, recommended substantially decreased astronomy funding for Arecibo Observatory, ramping down from USD 10.5M in 2007 to USD 4M in 2011.[2]. If other sources of funding cannot be obtained, this would mean the closure of the observatory. The report also advised that 80% of the observation time be allocated to the surveys already in progress, reducing the time available for other scientific work. NASA has decreased its share of the planetary radar funding[3].

Contributions by the government of Puerto Rico may be one way to help fill the funding gap, but are controversial and uncertain. At town hall meetings about the potential closure, Puerto Rico Senate President Kenneth McClintock announced an initial local appropriation of $3 million during fiscal year 2008 to fund a major maintenance project to restore the three pillars from which the antenna platform is suspended to their original condition, pending inclusion in the territorial government's next bond issue. The appropriation would be the first time that the islands' government contributes financially to the operation of a federal installation. However, New Progressive Party president and Arecibo District Sen. Pedro Rosselló announced on September 11, 2007 that he will oppose the bond issue favored by McClintock. The bond authorization, with the $3 million appropriation, was approved by the Senate of Puerto Rico on November 14, 2007, the first day of a special session called by Gov. Acevedo Vilá.

Rep. José E. Serrano, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, has asked the National Science Foundation to keep Arecibo in operation in a letter released on September 19, 2007.

In October, 2007, Puerto Rico's non-voting delegate in Congress, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño, along with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), filed legislation to assure the continued operation of the Arecibo facility.

As the Arecibo facility is owned by the United States, and administered as a national facility by the NAIC, direct donations cannot be made. However, Cornell University will accept contributions for Arecibo Observatory[1]. It has been suggested by at least one member of the NAIC staff that Google purchase advertising space on the dish as one means of securing additional non-government funds[2] To date, no 'anchor' donor or donors have publicly stepped forward to provide funding for the observatory nor its radar system.

Recently, in an open letter to researchers[3] the NSF clarified the status of the budget issue for NAIC, stating that the present plan, if implemented, may hit the targeted budgetary revision. No mention of private funding was made. However, it need be noted that the NSF is undertaking studies to mothball, or deconstruct the facility and return it to it's natural setting in the event that the budget target is not achieved.

Arecibo in popular culture

Arecibo Observatory was used as a filming location in the final scene of the James Bond movie GoldenEye. In the film, the villain Alec Trevelyan used a similar dish in Cuba to communicate with a Russian satellite to fire an electromagnetic pulse at London (the use of Arecibo to communicate with an earth-orbiting satellite is nonsensical from a technical standpoint). The dish and the ground below it were covered with water to conceal it as a lake. Additionally, the two main characters, Agents 007 and 006, fight on the antenna platform in the final scenes of the movie. There is also a level in the video game, GoldenEye 007 titled "The Cradle," based off of the Observatory.

In the X-Files episode "Little Green Men", Fox Mulder was sent to the Arecibo Observatory by a U.S. Senator because contact had been made with extraterrestrial life. As was often the case in the series, Mulder was forced to escape as U.S. government military forces arrived, without taking definitive proof of alien contact with him.

The film Contact features Arecibo in a more realistic way, as main character Ellie Arroway uses the facility as part of a SETI project.

The Arecibo Observatory was also featured in the film Species, as the main setting for the James Gunn novel The Listeners (1972), and as a prominent element in the Mary Doria Russell novel The Sparrow (1996). It was also featured in a segment of a Reading Rainbow episode.

The aliens in the BBC radio serial Space Force (1984) contact Earth after receiving the Arecibo message. One of the characters in the episode "The Voice from Nowhere" says that the Arecibo Observatory was closed down and dismantled.

Songwriter and author Jimmy Buffett mentions the "giant telescope" in his book Where Is Joe Merchant?, and in the lyrics to the song "Desdemona's Building A Rocket Ship". In both, a talented baker and former backup singer named Desdemona has a tryst with one of the workers "under the giant telescope", and begins receiving telepathic messages from the Pleiades, telling her to build a spaceship and "come home".

The dark ambient artist Brian "Lustmord" Williams did an album under the name of Arecibo. The album was titled Trans Plutonian Transmissions.

just restart if you're cutting that much. (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438597)

I rather have a new telescope in space. Looking for things on the ground are well known to be inferior to space telescopes. Cut 4 million more and build something better in space I say. Then give the land back to the animals (i.e. park? science museum?). Yes operations cost could be more, but put the freakin contractors on a leash (!) for one thing and be smart with the new ground station technologies nowadays (hmmm... NASA's advance comm project to get rid of ground stations?)

"I've been considering a vacation to PR for a few years, and seeing this thing is on my list of awesome things to try to see. Guess I should hurry ;) "

It's a US territory, hence, customs/culture are similar, but the prices are higher than San Francisco, people are somewhat bias against US mainlanders, and the weather is a just as good as Miami. Save your money and goto Central America....

Re:just restart if you're cutting that much. (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21439157)

It's a US territory, hence, customs/culture are similar, but the prices are higher than San Francisco, people are somewhat bias against US mainlanders, and the weather is a just as good as Miami. Save your money and goto Central America....

I beg to differ with you... We have very different customs from anyone in the 50 states... The prices are not higher than San Francisco, prices are mainly similar as in Maryland or New York.

The people are not biased against US Mainlanders. People do not agree with the Bush administration and if we could vote for President candidates I guarantee you he wouldn't have served that second term. People in PR are not biased against anyone, those that live in the island worry about their own issues, and if you come over to visit you will see regardless where you are from, people treat you nicely, without any leeryness and they are pretty open minded in terms of politics, religion and other thoughts.

Weather is as nice as Miami, only better. Beaches are beautiful, the food is great, lots of sazón, good drinks... beautiful women...

I have to say, not because I was born there, that PR is as good as any other Latin American country (Central, South America or Mexico), we are just different from Latin America, because we are trully bilingual, use the Dollar and we are chepaer than other latin american countries. So going to Puerto Rico is a lot different from going to any State, or other US Territory because we hold our Culture and Customs close and you can see it if you visit the mainland and do some tourism. I have been to Central and South America, and they are beautiful places to go, but Puerto Rico is different just like those countries are different from the USA.

Sometimes I think that anything that is part of the USA is like being assimilated by the Borgs.

Puerto Rico can be a US territory, but not in a million years you can assimilate or compare Puerto Rico, their people and our culture and customs to those of anyone in the world, in that sense we will always be independent from any country that is assimilated into the USA... or ahem "conquered" by the USA.

it would make one hell of a skateboard half pipe!! (1)

Ageing Metalhead (586837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438901)

Maybe Tony Hawks should put a few million of his fortune and rent it out...

considerations (1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21438999)

The unit should be up for bid for private ownership with aide of both governmment and public funding to help in times of upgrading technology and to help it run as often as needed. There is no reason that Arecibo shouldn't be pointed at our skies every night of every year with the necessary personnel on hand to manage and maintain it.

If the telescope is in need of updating, what sort of updates are necessary in order to make it as advanced and as powerful as it needs to be, or can be? How much will that cost the investor or the public, by either donation or funding derived from taxpayers? 10.5 Million people simply donating $1 would be enough to keep the current budget floating. Add that to my tax form and I'll definitely check 'yes'.

It's used for SETI research. Personally, I think it would be a detriment to us all to lose the funding that would allow for the operation and scanning of our skies for intelligent life other than ours. I think the level of importance carries the same weight as many other current global issues and should be allowed to remain functioning with what ever it needs to in order to gain a more full understanding of the universe around us.

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