The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope

The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope

Ronald Florence

Language: English

Pages: 451

ISBN: 0060926708

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Almost a half-century after is completion, the 200-inch Palomar telescope remains an unparalleled combination of vast scale and microscope detail. As huge as the Pantheon of Rome and as heavy as the Statue of Liberty, this magnificent instrument is so precisely built that its seventeen-foot mirror was hand-polished to a tolerance of 2/1,000,000 of an inch. The telescope's construction drove some to the brink of madness, made others fearful that mortals might glimpse heaven, and transfixed an entire nation. Ronald Florence weaves into his account of the creation of "the perfect machine" a stirring chronicle of the birth of Big Science and a poignant rendering of an America mired in the depression yet reaching for the stars.

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Casting ever made, for the costliest scientific instrument ever designed, the biggest telescope in the world, an instrument that would see farther into the cosmos—were the sort of tale Thomas delighted in reporting. He was never averse to hyperbole, and a list of superlatives was just what he needed to make a story that some would find “ordinary” into the kind of news that people remembered. Thomas knew a depressed America craved good news. He recognized a story about America’s greatness in the.

You said the annealing would be finished in October. How soon can we see the disc?” Every potential disaster, like the flood, brought another round of calls from reporters who hoped for a fresh angle on the mirror. In the depths of the depression, the telescope had become a staple of the news, a symbol of scientific and technological progress. When Edwin Hubble’s search for larger red shifts led to the idea of an expanding universe, journalists seized on both the connections to the famed Albert.

Ground in Maryland to head up ballistics research. Fritz Zwicky, whose sometimes-undisciplined ideas had included a water-burning torpedo, a terrajet that would drive through the earth, capturing an asteroid to mine its mineral resources, and creating an atmosphere on the moon, went off to do rocket research for newly created Aerojet General in Asuza.* John Anderson took on optics projects for the navy, army, and the NRDC. By the middle of the summer of 1942, with American men already engaged in.

Unbroken burro rolled over with a valuable spectrograph prism on his back, destroying it. It was the price they paid for a good site. It was 1908 before the sixty-inch telescope was ready. Ritchey had polished the great mirror for four years. The mountings, cast at the Union Iron Works, were almost lost in the San Francisco earthquake and fire. To reduce the friction on the bearings, the fork that held the telescope tube was mounted on a ten-foot-diameter float in a tank of mercury. The drive.

Brune I, Isambard Kingdom, 41 Buckingham, Earle, 346 Burbidge, Margaret, 306n Bureau of Standards, U.S., 95-96, 128, 132, t 39, 159, 357 Burlington Route, 252 Burnham, Sherburne Wesley, 26, 29 Burrell, E. P., 123-124, 225 Bush, Vannevar, 229, 310, 320, 334, 347, 357, 385, 393 joint observatories director appointed by, 358-361 Palomar endowment assured by, 336-340 Butler, Nicholas, 36 Buwalda, J. P., 209 Caldwell, Cy, 197-198 California: in Great Depression, 159-160 in 1920s,.

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