We can do without toilets, we can bring our own water, but we have to have Internet.

Mount Stromlo Observatory director Penny Sackett, on the priorities for restoring infrastructure following the wildfire that swept across the observatory in January 2003. From Dennis Normille’s account in the May 5 Science.

One Comment

  1. I heard similar comment at a talk a few years ago by an astronomer who spent one winter down in Antarctica. Internet (email, mostly) was important, but they typically only had a 4 – 6 window each day — because they need the satellite to be above the horizon. So resource usage was scheduled in a way that only a base full of PhD’s can manage.

    With regards to Stromlo, I don’t know if you have already stumbled across the various photo galleries around of its reconstruction. In particular, and have been in my link collection for a while. It’s a really nice place to visit (as are most obversatories, since they are surrounded by “countryside” of necessity) and only a reasonably short drive from Canberra. I first went there as part of a summer school program at ANU when I was in high school (1987) and have been back every 5 years or so when I was in the area. Although somebody losing their house or posessions in a bushfire is tragic, it happens enough in Australia — even in relatively urban areas — that I have become somewhat used to hearing it. But hearing the Stromlo Observatory was basically destroyed in 2003 is something I still remember. If you ever get a chance to visit Aus (perhaps for your next book on “great contemporary astronomers of the world”), it’s a place worth visiting.

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