Monday, October 06, 2008

Exploring the Universe with Dr. Norio Kaifu

Author: Gayle Olson

During 1998 we were fortunate to attend a dinner hosted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii, featuring a lecture by Dr. Norio Kaifu. Professor Kaifu is the director of the Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and has held the position as vice president of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) since 1997. A specialist in radio astronomy, infrared astronomy and interstellar matter, Dr. Kaifu has published some 100 papers on astronomy in addition to 15 popular science books. Before joining the Subaru in 1990, he was a director, a professor and an associate professor at the Nobeyama Radio Observatory, and a senior research associate in the Faculty of Science at the University of Tokyo. As an amateur backyard astronomer we were delighted to learn of the possibilities this new telescope will bring to the exploration of universal knowledge.

Dr. Kaifu shared his views about the design of the new telescope, cylindrical in shape, rather than dome, it can be more optimal for wind resistance. The 8-meter diameter glass mirror is only 8 inches thick and has taken six years to construct and polish. The mirror is controlled by two Fujitsu parallel computers, with the largest memory capacity in the world with 261 supporting structures. 100 times per second the computer adjusts the mirror to counteract the atmospheric turbulence, which we see as twinkling stars. The mirror can be controlled by the computer by each second, to obtain the best view of the deeper universe. Mauna Kea was chosen as a location for the new Japanese telescope because of the stable weather and easy access.

What will the new telescope discover? Astronomer's will be using the telescope to study the history of our galaxy and answer questions as to how life was created in the universe. New planets may be discovered, possibly including planets which support life. They will be looking as far as possible into deep space and looking back in time. Light from the most distant objects have been travelling for billions of years, they may even be able to catch sight of the end of the universe. The Subaru will be beneficial to the science of astronomy as all data will be shared with astronomers worldwide. The economic spinoffs and technology have greatly enhanced the Island of Hawaii.

Related Internet Resources

http://aloha.150m.com/noriokaifu.htm

About the author: Internet content developer and author since 1995.

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