Telescopes With Liquid Mirrors Go Mainstream
Liquid mirror telescopes have been in limited use for two decades, but only now are they finally seeing the beginnings of wider acceptance in the astronomical community.
(The Large Zenith Telescope's 6-meter liquid mercury mirror)
The largest, the 6-meter Large Zenith Telescope (LZT) operated by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, stands on a hilltop in a research forest some 40 miles east of the city.
“At the LZT, our ability to do astronomy is limited by weather and sky conditions,” said Paul Hickson, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and the LZT’s project director.
As a result, the project focuses on atmospheric measurements that support advanced optics testing on planned conventional world-class, ground-based telescopes.
Unlike large glass mirrors which are subject to the vagaries of humidity, thermal dynamics and constant deformation from gravity itself, liquid mercury — which remains molten at room temperature — can reflect as much as 75 percent of incoming starlight with little of the fuss associated with large conventional mirrors.
However, liquid mirrors must rotate. When rotating, the forces of nature keep the thin layer of liquid mercury in the shape of a parabola. That’s the shape needed for the liquid mirror to be able to collect and focus incoming starlight.
And the rotation has to be both continuous and at a constant speed, which for the LZT is 8.5 revolutions per minute. If the mirror stops rotating for even a fraction of a second, it loses its parabolic shape, says Ermanno Borra, an astrophysicist at Quebec’s Laval University and a longtime advocate for liquid mirror technology.
Although Isaac Newton was the first to note that the free surface of a rotating liquid forms a curve that could be used to concentrate light for a telescope, science fiction writers brought it to readers attention over the years. During the Golden Age of science fiction, Raymond Z. Gallun describes a liquid mirror telescope on Mars in his 1934 story Old Faithful.
Via Forbes; thanks to Winchell Chung of Project Rho for the tip on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/21/2013)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Low Cost Spray-On Solar Cells
'It turns sunlight into electricity... you spray it on.'- Larry Niven, 1995.
Wristify, Your Personal Cooling and Heating Device
'By law [a mandatory cooling unit] had to be strapped to every commuter's back...'- Philip K. Dick
Solar Roadways Could Power USA - Times 3
This would be great if it works - the roads might be better maintained as well.
Spaser-Based Circuits Could Be Printed On Clothing
'Alex rolled his wrist over to check the watch imprinted on his sleeve.'- Niven and Barnes, 1981.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Tracking Spinning Space Junk
'Loose nuts and bolts... had been accumulating in Earth orbit'
Baidu Kuaisou Dune Poison Snooper Chopsticks
'Unobtrusive inspections with... snoopers... Will it be chaumas - poison in the food?'
Crystalized Light Created At Princeton
'It will be matter, matter made of light...'
The Amazing Gravity-Assisted Journey Of Rosetta
'...We used the [moon's] attraction to give us additional starting speed'
AirDog Auto-Follow Drone Captures Your Awesomeness
'Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me...'
Dell's Venue 8 7000 Tablet With RealSense Depth-Mapping
Focus on any part of a picture later.
Google's Cartographer Backpack For Indoor Mapping
'He reached to unsnap the cartograph from his belt.'
T-Mobile Sues Huawei Over Button Pushing Robot Idea From The 1930's
'Not the slightest change in their working betrayed the fact that they were now being directed by a machine instead of human beings.'
Hayabusa-2 Asteroid Cannon Strategy From 1950's SF Novel
'Fire streaked in a thin line from the muzzle of a cannon-like tube...'
Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum Cleaner
'It vacuum-cleaned... or polished, consulting tapes in its idiot memory to decide which.'
First 3D Printer In Space?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
Google's Project Wing Will Find You
'Mechanical entities that flit at the edges of our vision, that can go anywhere, that are in our very midst...'
3D Printed Space Pizza For Astronauts
Put those butcher knives aside, and let me save that meal!
World's First Rapid 3D Nanoscale Printer
'Down, to the limit imposed by the ultimate indivisibility of the atoms themselves...'
Ralph Lauren Polo Tech Shirt
'It can feel your heartbeat...'- Rudy Rucker, 1988.
Smartphone Holographic Displays In 2015
If Sith Lords can have one...
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories