The Powerful, The Strong, The Fast/Seven Wonders of Modern Astronomy; Extreme Engineering; Scientific American Presents; by Musser; 8 Page(s)
Choosing only seven wonders out of the myriad accomplishments of modern astronomy is an impossible task-just the sort I like. The mere attempt encourages a tour of the golden age of astronomy in which we are now living, a time of big questions and proportionately big efforts to answer them.
For many people, astronomy sounds like a quaint science-they imagine a recluse perched on a mountain, quietly pondering the inky skies. To a large extent it is indeed a battle of the solitary mind with the almighty heavens. But sky-watching was also the first Big Science. Nineteenth-century astronomers wielded huge budgets, commanded armies of peons and reigned over megafacilities at a time when physicists' labs were simple affairs, just some magnets and oil droplets. And the tradition extends even further back: consider the great observatories of Jaipur and Delhi, the sky temples of the Maya, Stonehenge.