Affordable star gaz­ing?

Weekend Witness - - Opinion -

MY ever-ob­ser­vant wife passed me a glossy blue pullout from the bumph that weighs one down when col­lect­ing the Sun­day pa­pers. Is­sued by the Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy, it says that the most pow­er­ful ra­dio te­le­scope in the south­ern hemi­sphere is to be built near Cape Town at a cost of R15 bil­lion. Com­menc­ing in five years time, com­ple­tion will be in 2024. Bright young en­gi­neers and sci­en­tists will find the chal­lenges of up­grad­ing the In­ter­net and build­ing a new breed of com­put­ers, a thou­sand times faster than those we have to­day, quite ir­re­sistable.

Sci­en­tists us­ing 3 000 an­tenna will be able to study how the uni­verse evolved over 14 bil­lion years. Square kilo­me­tre ar­ray (SKA) sci­en­tists will col­lect more data in a week than hu­mans have man­aged over thou­sands of years.

Won­der­ful: I love star gaz­ing and satel­lite watch­ing, but I have a few ques­tions. Can a coun­try with 25% of its work­force unem­ployed af­ford it? Can a coun­try that has to im­port food af­ford it? How many jobs will the pro­ject cre­ate? McGILLY­CUDDY

Himeville

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