Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Telescope Maker: Interview

What I love about what I do is that I get to meet other paranormal geeks, and some who work in the field of geek-dom, scientific discovery, computer industry and more. I recently interviewed my buddy, John, who is lucky enough to work on telescopes for a living and has a passion for astronomy in his down time.

Here's some things I asked him about his interesting attitudes about telescopes, outer space, and all things astronomy geek -

Autumnforest: Do you construct standard models of telescopes or do you do custom ones?
John: For the most we are building custom telescopes and instruments for individuals and institutions.

Autumnforest: What is the most interesting project you've worked on?
John: A large telescope that we put up on top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

Autumnforest: Where did your love of astronomy come from?
John: Short answer; my parents.

Autumnforest: What scientists do you admire?
John: Oh boy, lot’s in the last 100 years alone, and for different reasons, so I don’t know where to start. Back a century ago most science was done by individuals, today most of it is done by committee.

Autumnforest: If you were on the crew of the original Star Trek-which character's job would you have wanted on the Enterprise?
John: Haha, well that’s tough because I like Spock’s logical brain, but Kirk gets all the girls!

(Note to John: Women could tell how Kirk was in bed, but Spock was the great unknown element—and therefore much more attractive)

Autumnforest: What do you think of the SETI project?
John: It’s a nice idea in principle, and if they ever find anything, there are huge implications for the human race. But, I think it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Instead of radio frequencies, Freeman Dyson proposed that we might want to look for unusual stars that show a high thermal infrared emission, where a star has been largely encircled by an advanced alien society, and much of its light has been captured for energy conversion, and so most of what is seen is waste heat.

Autumnforest: What is your take on UFOs?
John: I think that if you constrain the argument to the laws of “physics as we know them” then extraterrestrials visiting us in spacecraft from 100’s of light years away is rather unlikely. For comparison,the existence of Bigfoot is much more likely, considering the evidence, and that humans and gorillas do walk the planet. On the other hand I have seen a few things in the sky that I couldn’t explain, but nothing that I would say exhibited “high strangeness” as J Allen Hynek would say.

I'd like to thank John for sharing some insight into his geek industry. I'm hoping he can teach me more about the stars. If I'm going to keep UFO hunting, it would be nice to know what constellations I'm viewing while I'm awaiting the mothership.

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