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IceCube Telescope Takes Shape Below Antarctic Ice 165

Posted by timothy
from the hard-mile-to-walk dept.
PabloSandoval48 writes "The world's largest telescope, currently under construction more than a mile beneath the Antarctic ice, is on schedule to be completed next year, according to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, the lead institution for a scientific project called IceCube."
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IceCube Telescope Takes Shape Below Antarctic Ice

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  • Re:Not a telescope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Steve Max (1235710) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:34PM (#32680438) Journal

    It can infer the direction a neutrino came from, so (given enough time) it can make "images". In fact, they've seen the moon [arxiv.org] already, as a deficit of neutrinos coming from the moon's direction. It is a telescope, just one that doesn't "see" photons and that you don't have to point at a target to see it.

  • Re:Telescope? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by necro81 (917438) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:51PM (#32680702) Journal
    I wondered about this, too. I don't think that telescope is incorrect, exactly, but it would be better perhaps to call it an Observatory.

    The key feature of a telescope as I interpret the word is amplification of visual phenomena. It makes tiny things seem big. Perhaps the nitpickers would say that the main feature of a telescope is that it can resolve finer and finer details - I'd say that's the same thing. An ancillary of this is that it tends to gather a large amount of otherwise feeble light from some small field-of-view so that, when that field of view is zoomed in to occupy the whole of a sensor (a camera, the eye, etc.) there is still something there to see.

    This neutrino detector doesn't have any sort of magnification in that sense. It doesn't even work in the electromagnetic spectrum! It's purpose isn't to zoom in on a phenomenon, but to detect it and tell us where it came from. It doesn't zoom in. By that token I would say that it is an observatory, not a telescope. It does, however, have light amplification through the use of photomultipliers. And, by virtue of its size, can be thought of as having better resolving power and sensitivity than its predecessors. By measuring neutron flux intensity as a function of angular position, it should be able to produce a sky map much that those from more conventional (optical, radio, IR) telescopes. Does this make it a telescope? I don't know.

    For comparison, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory [wikipedia.org] faced a similar challenge: it didn't have an aperture or light gathering and focusing mirrors common to "telescopes" of other wavelengths. It is not possible to do that with any materials we're familiar with - gamma rays are absorbed or pass right through; there can be no reflectance or refraction. GRO was, much like this neutrino experiment, a target that waited for gamma rays to pass through. Once they did the instruments would figure out their energy and where in the sky their originated from. Notice that they called it an "observatory", not a "telescope."
  • by AnAdventurer (1548515) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:52PM (#32680710)
    Anyone/anything will wonder what on earth [sic] this is.
  • Re:N.W.A. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Major Downtime (1840554) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:09PM (#32681018)
    I agree. Evidence is hidden in plain sight:
    O'Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), better known by his stage name Ice Cube, is an American rapper, actor, screenwriter, film director, and producer.
    He began his career as a member of C.I.A and later joined the rap group N.W.A

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Cube [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:PCI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:24PM (#32681272) Homepage

    > ...shouldn't they reconsider the PCI bus being phased out...

    It is just barely possible that they might consider vendors other than Intel. Hint: ISA industrial stuff is still available.

  • Re:Telescope? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrops (927562) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:42PM (#32681536)

    I think amplification is the wrong criteria to define a telescope, a better criteria would be "convergence" or "focusing" of whatever spectrum we are looking at. That is the only common theme I can see in a Telescope, they all converge large amount of spectrum to a focal point. This may not be in a physical sense and may be done inside of a computer via munging of captured data from various physical detectors.

    In that respect, I still come to the same conclusion, that this is not a telescope.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:58PM (#32681772) Homepage

    It may be worth mentioning that no one working in the field ever calls a neutrino detector a "telescope", as in English that word when used without qualification virtually always means "optical telescope", so the usage in this article is misleading and confusing, to the point where if were done deliberately I would consider the person doing it to be either stupid or dishonest. I guess maybe the person who wrote the article or provided the information for it has English as a second language.

    Sure, unqualified it implies optical, but on the other hand we have radio telescopes, infrared telescopes, x-ray telescopes, and gamma-ray telescopes. Why not the IceCube neutrino telescope? Surely, though, the lack of the word "neutrino" in the title and the summary was a gross omission.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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