South Africa is preparing to host the biggest radio telescope in the world. Along with Australia, the country has been chosen to host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which will be 50 times more sensitive than any equipment so far and will seek answers to the origins of the universe.
“A lot of the science that is going to be done can be summarized as ‘origins.’ How does the universe evolve, how does galaxies evolve, is there life in the universe? There are all sort of answers that we don’t right now have the possibility of getting with the existing telescopes,” he said.
South Africa was competing against Australia to host the telescope. About a year ago, the decision was made to split the SKA between the two countries, but with the core of it being in South Africa.
The construction of the SKA is due to begin in 2016 and be fully operational in 2024, but a test telescope has already been built to try out the technology. The Karoo Array Telescope 7, also known as KAT-7, has even been transformed into a full working instrument.
“Do not take the lecture too seriously . . . just relax and enjoy it. I am going to tell you what nature behaves like. If you will simply admit that maybe she does behave like this, you will find her a delightful, entrancing thing. Do not keep saying to yourself "But how can it be like that?" because you will get . . . into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.”
—Richard Feynman — introducing a lecture about quantum theory
“The three-pound mass balanced atop our spines is made up of somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 billion neurons, each of which can make upwards of five to ten thousand synaptic connections with other neurons. A memory, at the most fundamental physiological level, is a pattern of connections between those neurons. Every sensation that we remember, every thought that we think, transforms our brains by altering the connections within that vast network. By the time you get to the end of this sentence, your brain will have physically changed.”