Saturday, October 05, 2013

Starry eyed

I just finished watching and enjoying this wonderful documentary on the NRAO New Mexico Very Large Array.

It's a scientific and technological icon of my childhood. Quieter and more understated perhaps than Concorde or The Shuttle, and (in spite of its many cinematic cameos) certainly far less ubiquitous than the Compact Disc or Velcro. But its completion in 1980 marked the beginning of a new era in space observation and it's such a powerfully evocative structure that it's long since seeped into my subconscious as the image of our planet's eye on the universe.

Jodie Foster's narration and the stunning cinematography combine to make a hym to this technological, scientific monument of my age. It's deeply moving.

What's even more moving is learning that (unlike most of my other examples - Velcro notwithstanding) The VLA has had a C21st rebirth, marrying its breathtaking late C20th macro engineering with the best of early C21st micro technology to produce an instrument with all the majesty and grace of the original, but many times the capacity to (further) enrich our understanding of the universe we inhabit.

I salute you VLA.

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