That big dish?
is the Areceibo Radio Telescope. That is NOT part of our project. The dish was heavily damaged by Maria, and there have been difficulties finding the funding to complete repairs. It's one of the most famous and iconic sites in astronomy, and has been featured in a number of movies. Apparently, they were planning on building a planetarium for visitors, but we don't have any information on the state of that project. Here's their website.
Why now in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Even the director of FEMA admitted the federal response to Maria was inadequate. A year later, the immediate public health crisis is over, and it's reasonable for the first time to discuss lower-priority projects like ours. And Puerto Rico still needs a lot of time, money, and effort to recover. People remain underemployed and their energy supply is fragile.
Why spend money on science and science education rather than investing in hospitals or the electrical grid?
Science, Music, Art, Literature: these things elevate us, and give meaning and purpose to our lives.
Is it fair to be able to access these things in wealthy communities, but lock the gate in post-disaster communities?
And to the extent our little project raises awareness and stimulates the economy, it helps in ways that aren't obvious.
PLANETARIUM vs OBSERVATORY
A planetarium is a theater, usually with a dome-shaped roof resembling the night sky, and can be used to demonstrate all kinds of astronomical ideas, pictures, and movies. Most, like the Ferre Planetarium we're working on, use digital projection technology. Combined with all of the recent discoveries in astronomy, a trip to the planetarium can take you to the surface of Mars or show you all of the galaxies in the visible universe!
An observatory is a place for telecopes. Many observatories feature a main telescope, often housed in a dome that opens and turns to keep wind off the telescopes. Many modern observatories can be robotically controlled via the internet, and typically do more digital photography than actual eyeball work. Observatories are often located in remote locations to obtain dark night skies, and are3 thus ideal candidates for off-grid electrical power via solar.
What's the South Pole connection?
Armando & Eric met each other through their work on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory project, which is located at the South Pole. Through its Education & Outreach office, IceCube has been sending teachers to the South Pole since 2001. Every summer, former and future IceCube teachers work together to plan & teach an Upward Bound science course at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, exploring new curriculum and teaching ideas related to neutrinos and multi-disciplinary polar science.
IceCube teachers work under the umbrella organization PolarTREC, which connects educators to polar science projects and researchers, and supports their expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic.
You can find out more about IceCube here
and more about PolarTrec here
For a variety of reasons, we want to make it clear that neither IceCube or PolarTREC, both National Science Foundation grantees, are directly or financially associated with AEwPR. As well, AEwPR is not associated with Upward Bound or the University of Wisconsin system.
Should I go to Puerto Rico?
Yes, please, now more than ever! Puerto Rico's economy depends in part on tourism - as it should, since it's beautiful. And every dollar you might spend gets spent again, and helps out by rebuilding the economy. Realistically, it's likely to take a decade for Puerto Rico to fully recover from Maria. But Puerto Ricans are delightfully welcoming and proud of their home, and have great food and beaches to offer. Most folks speak English and Spanish, so it's a great place to dust off that high school Spanish. :)
Here's a short list of some unique natural sights to check out.