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.

ďAt the LZT, our ability to do astronomy is limited by weather and sky conditions,Ē said Paul Hickson, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and the LZTís 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 ó which remains molten at room temperature ó 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. Thatís 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 Quebecís 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 ")

Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...' - Roger Zelazny

Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Cost Effective Smart Windows To Replace Curtains?
'The polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

Autonomous Tractor Harvest-Ready
'[He] dropped the handles of the plough that was plugged into the robomule...' - Harry Harrison, 1965.

 

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

Will There Be A Digital Afterlife?
'A quick exchange of energies resulting from the relocation of discorporate states.'

ROCKY - Resistive Overload Combined With Kinetic Yo-Yo
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses..'

China Bans Self-Driving Car Testing
Innovation hits some bumps.

Robotic Lawnmower Fulfills SciFi Homeowner's Dreams
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

7-Eleven Drone Delivers Chix Sandwich And Slurpee
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Beta-Ti3Au Titanium-Gold Alloy Hardest Tissue-Compatible Metal
It needs a more science-fictional name!

Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...'

Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing
'The public preferred lectons...'

SuperMeat - Crowdfunding Pohl/Kornbluth's Chicken Little
'Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.'

Martian-Grown Food Might Be Fine
'I donít want to come off as arrogant here, but Iím the best botanist on the planet.'

MARLO Robot Attempts Wave Field
'It is apparent that he will walk before his human brother.'

3RDiTEK Lifeblogging Headband Camera
'It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box.'

3D-Printed Biohybrid Is A Tissue-Engineered Robot
'The directing neurological tissue that forms the basis of the swibble is alive...'

Steerable Locusts Detect Explosives
Science fiction writers again provide a blueprint for the future.

No Human Drivers By 2040 - Israel
'It's been a criminal offense,,, to drive manually on a public highway.'

Graphene Ultracapacitor Airships For Heavy Lifting
'The war-balloons were to be kept for purposes of transportation of heavy articles...'

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.