From the SPIE meeting, where he gave a nice talk on LSST, Tony Tyson gives us his take on new large telescopes: "Over the past decade, sky surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey have proven the power of large data sets for answering fundamental astrophysical questions. This observational progress, based on a synergy of advances in telescope construction, detectors, and information technology, has had a dramatic impact on nearly all fields of astronomy, and areas of fundamental physics. The next-generation instruments, and the surveys that will be made with them, will maintain this revolutionary progress. The hardware and computational technical challenges and the exciting science opportunities are attracting scientists and engineers from astronomy, optics, low-light-level detectors, high-energy physics, statistics, and computer science. The history of astronomy has taught us repeatedly that there are surprises whenever we view the sky in a new way. This will be particularly true of discoveries emerging from a new generation of sky surveys. Imaging data from large ground-based active optics telescopes with sufficient etendue can address many scientific missions simultaneously. These new investigations will rely on the statistical precision obtainable with billions of objects. For the first time, the full sky will be surveyed deep and fast, opening a new window on a universe of faint moving and distant exploding objects as well as unraveling the mystery of dark energy."
Read the full article at arXiv.org