Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vote for South Africa

Where should the SKA be built? The shortlisted sites are Australia/NZ and South Africa, and the decision is due to be made early next year. At PhysicsWorld, you can cast your vote! Bear in mind that both sites have reasonable radio quietness and a willingness to devote infrastructure. So I figure it comes down to their relative appreciation for fundamental research. Vote for South Africa.


  1. Traitor! (NZ is just a glorified state of Australia). But you might be right about the relative appreciation for fundamental research. What's your evidence?

  2. My evidence? You mean, besides the funding statistics, job statistics, much personal experience and a lifetime of ostracism, abuse and poverty?

  3. The attitude of Australians/Kiwis to fundamental science is not a secret. Anyone can poll the population, and I am sure the SKA panel is capable of doing so.

  4. It's not immediately obvious to me that South Africa is better than Australia in terms of support for basic research. I'm not saying you're wrong, just it would be nice to have some evidence.

    I haven't seen any comparative funding statistics. Have you got a link?

    As for your personal experience, have you tried living in South Africa as someone on the outer edges of the research community? Or is the grass just greener there? I think that it's hard for anyone anywhere to be on the outside. Which is a bad thing, but understandable how systems form that way.

    In response to your second comment:
    Once again, I don't disagree that it's bad in Australia/NZ - but is it really better in South Africa?

  5. BTW I'm not trying to be nationalistic here, I just don't want to be anti-nationalistic either.

  6. I don't have any experience working in South Africa, but I think it is unfair to compare the two sites directly without taking into account socioeconomic, political and historical factors. As a project that looks to the future, the SKA may find value in the youthfulness of fundamental research in South Africa, no? I really don't know.

  7. I think such comparisons are being made. Since the two sites are essentially equally good locations for the physics, the decision comes down to politics. And I'm sure that each side is quietly/politely pointing out their social and political strengths and contrasting against the other sides weaknesses.

    For example the fist SKA site chosen in Australia was ruined because a mining company was given approval by a state government department to slap a road down in the radio quiet zone ( This reflects on the political and social priorities in WA and will count against Australia's bid.

    Some of the quotes in show other social/political considerations.


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