SALT

The New York Times, recently redesigned (discussed ad nauseum, notably by Slate’s Jack Shafer), has an article about SALT, the South African Large Telescope, now the Southern hemisphere’s largest telescope. This is just one of a series of scientific and technological investements being made in South Africa (by combinations of the South African and “western” governments), also including the AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and the possibility that SKA, the Square Kilometre Array, an immense radio telescope to be built over the next decade and a half, will be located there. We — scientists — hope that this “blue-sky” research and education in its service isn’t just an academic equivalent of outsourcing, but will also encourage the development of the technological and social infrastructure and learning that goes along with those blue skies (of course I’m writing this having lived in countries like the US and UK where the minority representation in sciences like astrophysics is barely countable).

The Times also has a lovely slideshow, part of its new multimedia push (accessible from the article’s main page).