Arecibo observatory fundraiser

Imagen de Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos

Foros: 

We have just added a link in the cover to the Arecibo observatory Fundraiser page. The Observatory is facing a funding crisis and might have to shut down. That would be a huge blow to the research community in PR. Here at CienciaPR we are trying to coordinate efforts with Friends of Arecibo, a non-profit created by scientists and run by Cornell University aimed at securing funding for the Arecibo observatory. Besides the link we provide in the cover, where direct contributions can be made, we will also include shortly a series of tools that will allow our members to sign petition and send them to the NSF board. In the meantime we encourage our members to join efforts with the Friends of Arecibo by visiting their page, learning about what is going on in Arecibo. If you are in PR, you can contact your representative and ask them to vote for the PR bond aimed at helping Arecibo. I have included a post below with the bond information.

Rating: 

0
Imagen de Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos

Breakdown of the $3M PR bond. To be voted on in November. Contact your representative now! (http://www.camaraderepresentantes.org/) (http://www.senadopr.us/) * Approximately $2,000,000 will be used to clean and paint the three concrete towers that support the suspension cables that hold up the telescope platform. The cleaning and painting will be done under contract by a painting contractor based in Puerto Rico using local labor. Each tower is approximately 300-feet tall and 36-feet wide at the base. Once painted a brilliant white, the three towers will make an inspiring sight for visitors and tourists coming to the Observatory, visible many kilometers from the Observatory gate. Bronze plaques attached to each tower will highlight the People of Puerto Rico as the source of funds that made this maintenance of these majestic pillars possible, symbolizing the prominence of Puerto Rico in the human quest for knowledge and exploration of the universe. * Approximately $400,000 will be used to paint the cables suspending the telescope platform over the 1000 foot diameter reflecting surface. This is an essential maintenance task, preserving the long-term structural integrity of the telescope system. The process involves acquisition of modern, safety certified mobile scaffolds that travel along the cables for painting access. A painting contractor based in Puerto Rico using local labor will do the painting under contract. Bronze plaques attached to each of three cable tie-down edifices will highlight the People of Puerto Rico as the source of funds for this maintenance, symbolizing the strength and resolve of those people in the endeavor to understand the near-earth space environment, and to protect all humanity from threats within that environment. * Approximately $600,000 will be used to renew the Observatory high power auxiliary electrical system. This system supplies as much as 3 megawatts of electrical power for a new generation of extremely high power scientific instruments coming on-line in the next few years. The work will be done under contract to commercial vendors based on the island. The project will enhance and ensure the unique ability of Arecibo Observatory to determine the strike probability, and to image the shapes, of Earth-crossing objects for two generations to come.
Imagen de Daniel Roberto Altschuler

No dudo que el posible cierre del Observatorio para el 2010 sería una pérdida para todos. Pero es necesario que se sepan algunas verdades ocultas. La administración del Observatorio y Cornell trataron mal a los puertorriqueños que trabajaban allí, incluyendo el despido de la primera y única puertorriqueña en los 40 años de historia del Observatorio en ocupar un puesto del plantel científico de astronomía. Ahora se le pide apoyo al gobierno con la excusa de pintar torres por dos millones. La pintura de las torres es un gasto no necesario, me consta que sería botar el dinero en algo que es merament estético. Mientras tanto sigue el éxodo de científicos y técnicos, se afecta negativamente lo que queda de las operaciones y pronto tambien cesarán las operaciones educacionales que tanto contribuyeron a la educación en Puerto Rico. Yo soy el primero en querer rescatar al Observatorio pero no bajo la presente administración que es la responsable en gran medida de la crisis. Daniel R. Altschuler Pasado director del Observatorio
Imagen de Roland Blasini

Altschuler: Ante todo le felicito por sus expresiones PUBLICAS, son bien pocos quienes se atreven comentar sobre el "timo" montado que lo que pasa alli. NO todo es lo que aparenta ser a simple vista y especialmente en Puerto Rico. Quedo de usted Cordialmente
Imagen de Daniel Roberto Altschuler

La respuesta a qué hacer con el Observatorio tiene varios componentes. Se debe completar un proceso de vision 2020 (me gusta el doble sentido) y determinar qué trabajo científico se hará con el instrumento para entonces y cuales serían los costos de esto. Lamentablemente una falla de la presente administración fue la de no elaborar esta visión hace tres años cuando era necesaria, ANTES de las determinaciones del comité SR de NSF que pasó sentencia. NO es cierto que el Observatorio esté científicamente obsoleto, podría contribuír buenas cosas por los próximos 10 o más años, pero es necesario continuar con el desarrollo de nueva instrumentación, incluyendo el radar planetario que es único en su clase. Luego se tendría que reevaluar la relacion del Observatorio con la academia en PR (es decir UPR) y si la idea es contribuír a su operación con algunos fondos locales, entonces determinar como beneficia a la comunidad científica y estudiantil, y establecer programas formales de investigacion y trabajo con programas de ciencia, ingeniería y computación Como ícono de la ciencia en PR el Observatorio de Arecibo puede contribuír a la educación científica en la Isla (como lo ha estado haciendo), pero el desarrollo de un programa formal sería importante. Lamentablemete acaba de renunciar el que quedaba dirigiendo estos esfuerzos (yo era el otro componente del equipo), otro paso hacía atrás por parte del Observatorio. Ciertamente, un consorcio de instituciones interesadas (nacionales e internacionales) podrían revivir al Observatorio, pero no será fácil. Mientras Cornell sea el que administra no veo la salida, ya que no han hecho nada en los pasados tres años para resolver la crisis, y han hecho caso omiso de los reclamos de muchos en Arecibo (que como pago han sido despedidos o perseguidos), que ciertamente les han alertado de la pésima situacion. Ademas de los 30 que se despidieron por la alegada falta de fondos, luego han renunciado 29 empleados adicionales, algunos muy expertos dificiles de reemplazar. Es fácil destruir y dificil construir. Tampoco han habido indicios por parte de NSF que todo esto les importe, y por el presente siguen insistiendo que solamente tendrán cuatro millones luego del 2010, lo cual es una sentencia de muerte. En resumen, hasta que no se establezca un plan de recuperacion liderado por personas comprometidas con esta causa, y se disponga de los fondos necesarios para realizarlo (>12 millones al año) no se realizará, y cuanto más tiempo pase más dificil será la recuperación y mas fácil el argumento para cerrarlo, ya que estamos resbalando hacia una profecía que se autocumple (por decirlo de algún modo). De paso, NO se resolverá el problema vendiendo camisetas y solicitando donativos.
Imagen de Carlos Rinaldi

I think it's ridiculous for the government of Puerto Rico to spend $3MM in a research facility which has been determined a non-priority by the astronomy community and which throughout its history has had little impact on the scientific output of the island. If CienciaPR wants to promote the development of science and research in Puerto Rico through fundraisers the focus should be on convincing the local government and the people of Puerto Rico that it is worthwhile to invest in the research infrastructure of the UPR system. The bond amount of $3MM could be used to add four to five research labs in the UPR-Mayaguez campus, which is largely ignored in the research infrastructure plans of the UPR and government (e.g., the metro area is getting a "Molecular Sciences" building and a "Knowledge Corridor" - see the current issue of Scientific American for more information - and yet there are no plans to add research space in UPRM). These labs would provide adequate research space to UPR scientists and engineers who have been successful in competing for federal research funds but face a crisis in terms of lab and office space. These are the scientists who are working hard to move science and research forward in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico does not need "majestic pillars ... symbolizing the prominence of Puerto Rico in the human quest for knowledge", it needs a serious attitude toward investing in the science and research infrastructure of the UPR system, which mission is to advance knowledge in PR.
Imagen de Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos

This is a great and very necessary discussion. What I am going to do is to put the Arecibo issue on a rotating yellow box in the cover (instead of the banner as it is right now), and include a link to this discussion. That way people can participate in this discussion and make an educated decision on how they would like to contribute (or not) based on the points raised in this forum.
Imagen de Jonathan S Friedman

I would like to respond to the following comment by "crinaldi": "I think it's ridiculous for the government of Puerto Rico to spend $3MM in a research facility which has been determined a non-priority by the astronomy community and which throughout its history has had little impact on the scientific output of the island." Certainly it is reasonable to oppose the PR government supporting the Arecibo Observatory. There is a reasonable debate to be had here, but let's base it on facts. The Senior Review did an injustice, but they themselves were not happy about the cuts they proposed. It was their mandate to find $30M/year, and they found about 1/4 of that. The lack of "priority" came as much from Cornell's own supporting document as anything. That document spoke only of completing ongoing surveys, not of a scientifically important future. As for "little impact": * The Arecibo Observatory is the best equipped, most productive facility for research in space physics on the Earth. There is none that even comes close. This is principally because of the uniquely powerful ionospheric radar, that, once gone, will never be duplicated. * The Arecibo Observatory is the only facility in the world that could precisely determine whether an Earth-bound asteroid is truly a collision threat with sufficient lead-time to permit us to take action to prevent a global catastrophe. * The Arecibo Observatory can see deeper into space than any other radio telescope on earth. Its sensitivity permits study of some of the most extreme and strange objects nature can conjure, such as pulsars. Although other telescopes can observe and study such objects, Arecibo can do so with an order of magnitude more sensitivity, with all that it implies. The Arecibo Observatory, as much as anything else, puts Puerto Rico on the world map. As "danuchko" implies, we need for this great icon of science to become part of Puerto Rico rather than Cornell's or the NSF's telescope in Puerto Rico. This will ensure its future. In my view, this can (and should) be done together with the NSF and Cornell. Should another organization take over management, NSF and Cornell will still be involved, and that should be in our interest.
Imagen de Andres F Charlotten

Estoy de acuerdo con las expresiones de Crinaldi en que el Recinto de Mayagüez necesita mas fondos para desarrollar mas la posibilidad de hacer trabajo investigativo en la universidad. Sin embargo el Observatorio si tiene importancia cientifica y es importante para crear mas trabajo investigativo entre profesionales y estudiantes.
Imagen de Jose Rojas

We all know that in PR many millions are wasted in "obres que nois e ven." So why not just amend this proposal in the legislature so the people of PuertoRico and our sccientists can have full control of this observatory? No just an injection,but full control.The US government and its agencies probably would be more than happy to sell it to us (better than taking it down).etc. Thanks
Imagen de Jose Rojas

Please advice if there is a committee or something close to it that is involved.As a past lobbyst in the USA, I can tell you all that the funds are available we just need the right approach and strategy so we can keep this observtory in our hands and full control. If interested contact me at fundgold2020@yahoo.com
Imagen de Giancarlo Valentin

I would like to add a simple note to this discussion: In 1974, using the Arecibo Observatory, Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor discovered the first binary pulsar PSR B1913+16, for which they were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993. I am not supporting any specific point of view. I just want to make it clear that the contributions of the observatory are far from trivial. PS: You can use this website to write a letter to your senators. http://capwiz.com/tps/issues/alert/?alertid=9514086
Imagen de Jonathan S Friedman

I am intrigued by Fundgold2020's idea, but I honestly do not see either the interest or the ability in Puerto Rico to purchase and operate the Arecibo Observatory. As a member of the scientific staff, I can tell you that we have extensively explored options with members of the government, universities public and private, and private industry and consortia such as INTENOR (Instituto Tecnologico del Norte). Although there is great interest in participating with and promoting the observatory, there is no interest in unseating Cornell. In fact, most look at this as an opportunity to advertise a partnership with a major research and Ivy League institute. This for their own benefit. I strongly urge CienciaPR contributors and other readers to visit the arecibo-observatory.org site and read the list of accomplishments. Many of these are not "been there done that" science. Much of what the Arecibo Observatory does continually pushes the state of the art and the frontiers of science. I also urge you to read the articles posted at http://www.naic.edu/aorss/. These are the most recent accomplishments, including the discovery of precursors of amino acids in the dust of a distant galaxy (methanimine and hydrogen cyanide). Every day we demonstrate our relevance, but I want to add one more thing. We would be nowhere without a supremely dedicated staff that simply works miracles. While it is true that there has been treatment of Puerto Rican staff that was unfair, that is necessarily changing. The fact is that the Puerto Rican engineers, technicians, administrators, and scientists who work here or worked here in the past have been, are, and will be indispensable. The sad thing is that from a distance many people do not see this.
Imagen de Robert Kerr

Add another response to this: "I think it's ridiculous for the government of Puerto Rico to spend $3MM in a research facility which has been determined a non-priority by the astronomy community and which throughout its history has had little impact on the scientific output of the island." Holy Camoli - there's a provincial take. Scientific Output from PR includes the output of Arecibo Observatory (AO), of course - and that output is prodigious, in the past, and now. (In the past 24 months AO has expanded the population of known galaxies in the AO beam 15-fold, has determined that the planet Mercury has a liquid core, has demonstrated that the bottom of the Shackleton crater at the lunar pole is NOT covered in water-ice, has demonstrated that equation-of-state models for super-dense pulsar material must be reworked, has demonstrated that the surface of Titan features lakes of gasoline, not oceans, has made the first identification of life's building blocks [amino acid constituent parts] beyond the Milky Way [in the starburst galaxy ARP 220], has discovered the 1st known triple-asteroid system, and has accomplished the 1st ground-based images of cometary nucleii.) The new, and old, scientific legacy of AO is a legacy from Puerto Rico - regardless management. To hold otherwise is the equivalent of suggesting that the ISA-bus is not an American invention because it came from the hands of an African American. Racism has no place in this thread, i think. This work is done in Puerto Rico by Puerto Rican residents - whatever there origins and whomever their employer. Sorry crin, sorry danu. Too, it would be altogether positive that the iconic towers at AO be desribed as ""majestic pillars ... symbolizing the prominence of Puerto Rico in the human quest for knowledge", - those are my words, and i stand by them. However, that is NOT why the bond-issue investment is a good one. In fact, based on % of island tourism trade and revenue (Per Tourism bureau stats), AO pumps $50M into the PR economy each year, in addition to its $8M/year payroll and in addition to to the retirement wages of >200 retirees resident here. THAT economic impact is worth preservation, and THAT is a primary motor for the presence of AO in the bond-issue. Most can understand the value of that economic engine, even if they are not interested in the science. And, ALL benefit. I do agree tho - let's do invest some of those revenues in UPR!
Imagen de Robert Kerr

By the way - the inventor of the ISA-bus? Mark Dean, of Jefferson City TN. Also responsible for the 1st 1-GHz processor chip. National Inventors Hall of Fame, 1997, and a credit to all of humanity of all nationalities and managed by whomsoever. No matter how you slice it, he and his bus are Tennessee Volunteers - just as AO and its product are Puerto Rican.
Imagen de Giancarlo Valentin

GD, thanks for posting. I am glad that someone has taken the time to instruct us on the usefulness of the observatory since, as crinaldi’s comments illustrate, we remain largely ignorant on the topic.