Looking Back: Remembering Bracewell's Observatory

from the only-going-forward dept

Silicon Valley isn’t known for looking back much. We’re a culture that’s based on forever looking forward. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in learning from the past. As we enter into what looks like another bubble situation, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to remember a few things from those who have gone through it before. Andy Kessler has summed that up pretty nicely in his latest piece, that starts out by highlighting the lack of historical landmarks in Silicon Valley, relative to the area’s contributions to the world, but then focuses on the set of rusty 60-foot dishes mostly forgotten up in the hills behind Stanford. The dishes received a fair bit of local attention over the summer when they were condemned to be destroyed. The area had been at risk for a while, and while it only took the official announcement to cause people to suddenly taken an interest, Kessler’s piece does a nice job demonstrating how certain scientific breakthroughs go well beyond what they were first intended for. Bracewell’s work not only did what it initially was set up to do (mapping the sun’s surface), but also ended up leading to certain algorithms that were central to medical technology advancements such as CT scans and MRIs. So, while the area may get paved over, the real legacy of the place will live on. Though, in the meantime, if you want to visit it, you might want to do so soon (Kessler gives fairly specific directions, too).

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Comments on “Looking Back: Remembering Bracewell's Observatory”

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dorpus says:

Oh yes, the culture

Like in 1999, when San Jose put up plastic statues of sharks all over the city to celebrate San Jose’s “culture”? Or they opened a new science museum with old computers in it, hailed as a great monument to culture.

The most “culture” we’ll find in that region are the Cinco de Mayo or Tet festivals, which the white people hate. Otherwise, there are a few small art shows by white hippie artists who live far away in the hills, and really hate talking to people.

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