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IceCube Telescope Takes Shape Below Antarctic Ice 165

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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  • IceCube? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:19PM (#32680186) Homepage

    What, the rapper?

    No, seriously. I think I remember reading about this earlier this year in Scientific American or something ... only it was on a big lake in Russia [] and they worked during the winter when everything is frozen. Kind of cool, bleeding edge stuff.

    I gather that the one in the Antarctic will be bigger, and give a view in a different direction than the Russian one.

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

    by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:20PM (#32680202)
    Would there, however, be any benefit to having such a project set up under lunar regolith/base rock if we could ever get back to the moon?
  • Telescope? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:23PM (#32680278)

    I'm not sure that a neutrino detector is any more of a telescope than the sensor that decides when it's time for the lights to come on at night.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcelrath ( 8027 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:57PM (#32680806) Homepage

    Ice Cube operates by observing visible Cerenkov radiation from electrons and muons created when high-energy neutrinos hit an atom in the ice, as they traverse the ice. Of course, ice being transparent to visible light is important here, and lunar regolith is opaque to visible light.

    However it has been proposed to look for radio waves being emitted in a similar manner. Cerenkov radiation [] is caused by moving faster than the speed of light in the medium -- it's the "blue glow" if you look at the picture on that wikipedia link, and emits a broad spectrum of radiation, down into radio frequencies. Depending on the composition of the regolith, it may be transparent to radio waves. This can be done from the Earth by pointing your antenna at the moon, or from satellite(s) in orbit around the moon. You might be interested in the Goldstone [] project. So, at least with proposals I've heard about, getting people on the moon to make big holes is not an important component, but the surface of the moon may still be useful for similar experiments. You never know though, maybe tomorrow someone will post a new idea!

  • Largest "telescope"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DiracFeynman ( 655294 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:13PM (#32681076) Journal
    I'm not so sure if this can be considered the largest. What about the VLA or LIGO?
  • Re:Telescope? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:22PM (#32681236)

    Why? It captures information from a flux of particles (not photons, but neutrinos in this case) emitted by astrophysical objects.

    Because when speaking to a broad audience it behooves scientists to avoid terminology that they know will be confusing and misleading to laypeople. Anything else is an abrogation of their responsibility to communicate science clearly and unambiguously to the public.

    Besides, no one in these fields ever calls anything like this an (unqualified) telescope. So the purpose of doing so for a general audience seems to me to be solely to mislead and confuse, and I'm not at all clear why anyone would want to do that.

    Curiously, the link you provide to Auger describes it as a "cosmic ray observatory", almost as if the people who created the site were scientists, aware of their responsibility to communicate clearly.

  • Re:Not a telescope (Score:3, Interesting)

    by starfishsystems ( 834319 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:56PM (#32682570) Homepage
    Agreed, at least provisionally. A telescope is an instrument which "sees" objects at a "distance". Whether the mechanism is optical or otherwise is not the point, it's how effectively the device can give us information about specific distant objects.

    This array is more like a scintillation counter. It measures local phenomena. Perhaps, opportunistically, it could be used to infer something about distant objects, but in that sense it's still no more a telescope than a light bulb is a power meter.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.