TMT and Christopher Columbus

When Christopher Columbus approached Queen Isabella of Spain in quest of financing for his world altering voyages, he did so with a plan that could make the Spanish Empire richer and more powerful. He drew for the queen visions of spices and jewels, gold, silks and perfumes sure to swell the royal coffers. There was no emphasis on the Earth being round rather than flat. Flat world or round, either way was fine with the queen; bring the goodies home to Spain –that’s all that mattered.

ADVERTISING

When Christopher Columbus approached Queen Isabella of Spain in quest of financing for his world altering voyages, he did so with a plan that could make the Spanish Empire richer and more powerful. He drew for the queen visions of spices and jewels, gold, silks and perfumes sure to swell the royal coffers. There was no emphasis on the Earth being round rather than flat. Flat world or round, either way was fine with the queen; bring the goodies home to Spain –that’s all that mattered.

The proposed Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea promises to tell us maybe the origin of the universe some 13,000,000,000 (13 billion ) years ago. To get this “vital” bit of information, the backers must impose their quest upon the community of native peoples who hold the mountain sacred. Because the Native Hawaiians — are divided on the TMT project their community suffers.

Is this information so important that anyone has the moral, ethical right to pursue it under these conditions?

To Queen Isabella and her gang, the shape of the world was of little consequence — a frivolous notion. So, too, is this burning desire to answer the big question at this time; frivolous at best, poorly prioritized, and injurious to the host culture. The much needed improvements in education held as a carrot for the approval of the telescope should be realized with or without the TMT — they are necessary! Surely, the University at Hilo can maintain a quality astronomy program with the facilities now intact on Mauna Kea.

Finally, all who want to know, know that the future of cosmic investigations will be based from space on satellites and planets and moons.

ADVERTISING

So, astrophysicists, astronomers and astrologers, too, tell me what, aside from furthering cosmological theories, there is to be gained from this divisive Thirty Meter Telescope proposal. As candidate for president Al Gore liked to say, “where’s the beef?”

Tomas Belsky is a resident of Hilo