Sunday, May 4, 2008

Carma … not Karma!

As I mentioned in a prior blog, I’ve been attending a lecture series at Caltech University. The subject of the last lecture was a talk by Stephen Hawking on The Black Hole. Fascinating … I loved it (see blog dateTK)

Well, last Wednesday morning I looked on the “Calendar of Events” and I saw that this week’s Caltech lecture was to be on Karma. Except it was spelled Carma. Hmmm. I told my friend Kat: “Hey I love Karma stuff … want to come to the lecture with me?”

She said: “Great!”

So we set off in the hideous traffic to head over to Pasadena to hear about Karma. Well it was something entirely different because it wasn’t Karma – there hadn’t been a typo in the brochure – it was CARMA.

CARMA means Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy – not KARMA … the (according to Wikipedia) (Sanskrit: kárma … kárman- "act, action, performance"[1]; Pali: kamma) the concept of "action" or "deed" in Indian religions understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called samsara) described in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.

This is what OUR lecture was all about. Professor Anneila I. Sargent was at the podium answering the following questions …

What do astronomers do when they find that the telescopes they are using limit their ability to address questions about how stars and planetary systems form or how galaxies originate and evolve? They try to build a bigger, better instruments!

Over the last few years, Caltech radio astronomers have moved their Owens Valley Radio Observatory millimeter-wave array of telescopes to Cedar Flat in the Inyo Mountains of California. There, the Caltech antennas have been connected with others from the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland array to create CARMA, the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy. The higher elevation of Cedar Flat, the larger number of telescopes working together, and a series of upgrades and innovations make CARMA a novel and exciting new instrument that will provide new views of the universe.

For most of the lecture, I didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about … but the pictures of the telescopes were fascinating

For more information on all of this, the Web site is captivating …

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