Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are we about to revolt?

I arrived in Copenhagen this afternoon for the NORDUnet Conference. As planned I was just in time to catch the GRID Services session. After some excellent presentations... including a very illuminating presentation on the origins of EGI from Dieter Kranzlmuller, we headed off to the evening reception in the local Tycho Brahe Planetarium.

After a few snacks we were taken up into the projection room. The lights dimmed and we were given an excellent inspirational presentation on the current state of Astronomy research by a local Astrophysicist. I will admit that with the dark room, the comfy chair and the early morning start, my eye lids were becoming heavy and I was starting to drift off to sleep.

But the speaker started talking about technical revolutions in Astronomy and their impact on the science. This year is the International Year of Astronomy and next year marks 400 years since a certain Galileo Galilei ground a block of glass into a lens, put it at one of a tube and pointed it at the night sky. This simple act not only empowered a science, but fundamentally changed our understanding of our position in the Universe.

Further revolutions in research, driven by advances in technology, were illustrated covering radio astronomy, and ground and space-based telescopes. The presentation then ended by looking at the future opportunities that the European Virtual Observatory will bring to his profession. How the integration of different data sets from different source (i.e. visible, radio, infra-red, ...) would all soon become searchable from your desktop and the discoveries that such an infrastructure might produce.

So this is the question... will people in 400 years look back at the early part of the 21st century and marvel at the pioneering work that was done to consolidate the current European e-infrastructure and how it underpinned the start of a new research paradigm and scientific discoveries?

Join us next week in Barcelona at EGEE'09 and be part of the revolution!


Catherine Gater said...

Excellent post! Very interested to read about the Tycho Brahe Planetarium and the early days of astronomy. I wonder what an International Year of Computing would be celebrating in 400 years time?

José Luis Vázquez-Poletti said...

"Are we about to revolt?"

/me raises his hand :-).