Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Listen Up!

The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent federal agency whose aim is to promote scientific and engineering progress in the United States. NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. Additional support is provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The Observatory operates on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day every day, providing observing time, electronics, computer, travel and logistic support to scientists from all over the world. All results of research are published in the scientific literature which is publicly available.

As the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, the Observatory is recognized as one of the most important national centers for research in radio astronomy, planetary radar and terrestrial aeronomy. Use of the Arecibo Observatory is available on an equal, competitive basis to all scientists from throughout the world. Observing time is granted on the basis of the most promising research as ascertained by a panel of independent referees who review the proposals sent to the Observatory by interested scientists. Every year about 200 scientists visit the Observatory facilities to pursue their research project, and numerous students perform observations that lead to their master and doctoral dissertations.

The Observatory had its origins in an idea of Professor William E. Gordon, then of Cornell University, who was interested in the study of the Ionosphere. Gordon's research during the fifties led him to the idea of radar back scatter studies of the Ionosphere. Gordon's persistence culminated in the construction of the Arecibo Observatory which began in the Summer of 1960. Three years later the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory (AIO) was in operation under the direction of Gordon. The formal opening ceremony took place on November 1, 1963.

From the beginning there were certain requirements for the site. It had to be near the equator, since there, a radar capable of studying the ionosphere could also be used to study nearby planets which pass overhead. The Arecibo site offered the advantage of being located in Karst terrain, with large limestone sinkholes which provided a natural geometry for the construction of the 305 meter reflector.

In addition an Optical Laboratory with a variety of instrumentation used for the passive study of terrestrial airglow is located at the Observatory. A lidar (Light Detection And Ranging) together with a Fabry-Perot interferometer is primarily used to measure neutral winds and temperatures of the middle atmosphere This capability complements that of the incoherent scatter radar, and gives Arecibo a unique capability in the world in terms of aeronomic research.

On October 1, 1969 the National Science Foundation took over the facility from the Department of Defense and the Observatory was made a national research center. On September 1971 the AIO became the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC).

In 1974 a new high precision surface for the reflector (the current one) was installed together with a high frequency planetary radar transmitter. The second and major upgrade to the telescope was completed in 1997. A ground screen around the perimeter of the reflector was installed to shield the feeds from ground radiation. The gregorian dome with its subreflectors and new electronics greatly increases the capability of the telescope. A new more powerful radar transmitter was also installed.

About 140 persons are employed by the Observatory providing everything from food to software in support of the operation. A scientific staff of about 16 divide their time between scientific research and assistance to visiting scientists. Engineers, computer experts, and technicians design and build new instrumentation and keep it in operation. A large maintenance staff keeps the telescope and associated instrumentation as well as the site in optimal condition. A staff of telescope operators support observing twentyfour hour per day.

All photos via The Arecibo Observatory

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nicaragua welcomes Glen Small

Glen Small with Flying Pod House, 1969-72. Photo Orhan Ayyuce

Last weekend I helped my friend Glen Small store his stuff in a rented garage. Glen is 75 y.o., dissed by starstruck American architectural realm and moved to Nicaragua permanently (as of today).
This is not unlike like what the jazz musicians did in the past, avoiding segregation.
Glen should be treated like a treasure, but instead... All because he has an outspoken and egocentric genius personality. Unfortunately people can't take somebody who can't hide the truth for political and professional advances.
Among his credentials, he is the founding member of Sci Arc. That school still banks on Glen's rebellious image and his early directions.

He is also the subject of my first interview for Archinect and a follow up thereafter.

As we moved Glen's stuff into the storage, tons of models, drawings, publications, personal stuff, posters surfaced...
He, at one point said, "there goes another move."
It was real fascinating to see his work in historical context as he was relating all the models, boxes and documents to their origination points.
We inspected every piece before movers stack them up in the rented garage which now I have a key to.

There were some gems I haven't seen physically before like the Flying Pod House model.
Familiar with newer versions? I am sure you are familiar with re-discovery of some ideas illustrated, but of course no credit for Glen and his 'way ahead of its time' work.
A lot of this kind of resentment came up parcel after parcel...

At the end, we have decided resentment was useless and time was ripe to move into new ideas, new projects and let many in the architectural world know, "you can kill the architect, but never can take away his ideas."

For those of you who are familiar with Glen Small's work, this is the latest news on him. And those who are not familiar, check it out as soon you have a moment to ponder about where did some of the greenest and futuristic ideas came from, way ahead of their time and along with many works of the time mostly forgotten today under the current green euphoria.

Oh... I am the proud owner of a 'real' Eames shelves prototype that was never produced. All plywood shelves are busted and #4 bar construction needs new paint, but it is modular and stacks up.
Plus some Futurist magazines with Glen on the cover and posters and other stuff...
Thanks Glen you didn't have to...
I hope Nicaragua embraces you better than the US.
Good luck with your future projects and keep us informed with the products of your unbounded imagination, creativity and rebellious persona.

I am posting few images of Glen's work between late sixties and early eighties to give you some idea.


Friday, December 5, 2008

(Silly post of the day) Mies in; How High is the Water Mama

Background music by Johnny Cash

A politi-cali morning

Few Commendments, Venice Beach, Nov. 2008

Thinking about what I can do to cause a controversy today, I decided to take myself to Venice Beach early in the morning, take some pictures and talk about things that might offend some readers for not talking about Pritzker Prize winners and 007 James Bond personally blowing up modern architecture... ->
A small collection of photos, freshly shot this morning and a few months ago, showing why Los Angeles worth every penny of its inflated living expenses. At least for me, for us, who, I clocked this morning, live only two miles away from the Pacific Ocean but only visit the surf on limited occasions and as little as once in a while all the same...

I have come to the conclusion, that, this is what I have to do; Go to Pacific Ocean every other day with Tina, sometimes take the dogs with us and report on poverty and riches, living side by side, sometimes as glamorous as a live photo shoot and sometimes as beautiful as “freedom is having your crow and big book by your side, under the modern master like Mark di Suvero...” Fixated not...

Take my word, Boardwalk is political. But you decide how... I have...
Also, watch the word plays... This way... Just before old Billy’s Apartments become multi million dollar condominiums. Yes they can...

Flickr Slides