Surfin’ Bird


Often, our society fails to give scientists the credit they deserve.

Take homo erectus for example. A lot of scientists have had a lot of laughs out of the fact that they managed to convince the world that homo erectus was the name of an evolutionary step (which it is of course) and not just a really silly name they thought they would try their luck with.

But nowhere is it more clear than the people who study using the many telescopes located in Hawaii.

At some point in human history, a scientist when to a grant panel, and the grant panel asked them where the best place to put a telescope would be. Said scientist must have then looked at them slowly and sensing they trusted their judgement, decided to try their luck once again.

“Hawaii!” the scientist would have said, trying to sound more confident than they really were.

“Hawaii?” the chair of the grant panel would have enquired. “Why would Hawaii be the best place to put a telescope?”

“Well…” replies the scientist, trying to think on their feet as fast as they possibly could. “It’s the altitude you see!” “The altitude? Hawaii is an island, surely it is at sea level?” “Yes… but those mountains are very tall! Very tall indeed!”

“Seems like there would be a lot of places at high altitude. Are you sure you’re not just making this up so you can go live on a tropical island and go surfing every day?” “No, no” replies the scientist, “Hawaii has the tallest mountains and the clearest skies – it has to be Hawaii.”

“Well then”, says the grant panel chair, slamming down his approved stamp, “I guess that is that.” Thus began a golden age for science…



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This entry was posted on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 at 11:35 am and is filed under Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.