SKA promotion team visits HMO
by Serena Ingamells
Orion Observation Group
Carol, Rudie and I spent a delighful day in Hermanus yesterday.
Some 60-70 people gathered at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory and the lecture room was filled to capacity. The big attraction for most was astronaut Jeff Hoffman, but personally I was interested in details about our SKA bid.
Dr Jeff Hoffman spoke about space flight at NASA and specifically his involvement with the Hubble Space Telescope. I got the impression that we saw photos yesterday that haven't been generally available - truly inspiring stuff. We experienced him as modest and approachable, as the accompanying photos show.
Dr Robert Williams, President of the International Astronomical Union, is still involved with the Hubble Space Telescope, and his talk dealt with what has been achieved with the HST to date, as well as future expectations. He also referred briefly to the James Webb Telescope.
Prof Charles McGruder is the robotoic telescope man from the University of Kentucky and and expert on the SKA. His in-depth presentation dealt with the goals of the SKA and details of the bid process. He noted that the latest estimate from the World Bank suggests that a country winning the SKA bid would experience a 2% increase in its GDP. Economic growth is thus an important incentive to winning the bid. Although he is supposed to be impartial I'm glad he's on our side!
Dr Gordon Macleod, now affiliated with the CSIR and Dept. Science and Technology, is an interesting Canadian full of enthusiasm for the South African bid. I asked him what single factor will play the most important role in assuring we win the bid. One could feel the passion in his response. He was of the opinion that economic benefits to the hosting nation and its people would count the most, but added that politics always plays a role...
South Africa's bid will certainly be the cheaper - according to my understanding the Australian dishes are being made by the Chinese (!) Another factor to consider is that the host region in Western Australia is hurricane country.
I'm now more optimistic than ever.
nothing more to see. please move along.