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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...' - Frank Herbert, 1965.

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...' - Blade Runner, 1982.

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...', Frank Herbert, 1965.

Dilbert Writer Scott Adams Plans For Immortality
'Nothing will be left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1956.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'

Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'

Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'

3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'

Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'

Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'

Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'

ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'

Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'

Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'

Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.