W.Va. To NSF: Give Us The Telescope

NSF’s idea to turn an astronomical disaster into a bonanza for astrophysicists has run into opposition from two influential West Virginia Democrats. NSF officials knew that Sen. Robert Byrd, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that passes judgment on NSF’s budget, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who sits on the Senate Commerce and Science Committee that authorizes its programs, were eager for the state to recover from the unexpected collapse last November of the federally funded 300-meter radio telescope at Green Bank, W. Va. And they thought they had the perfect solution: a planned $120 million gravity wave detector that NSF believes has a higher scientific priority than a replacement telescope. But Byrd and Rockefeller have decided after a meeting with NSF officials that a new telescope, not a gravity wave detector, “offers—the best promise for jobs, education, tourism, and scientific prestige” for their...

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