GLAST

NASA’s Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) has produced one of its first images shown here in this Nature report. It has, as a bonus, produced an image of a blast of gamma rays from a super massive black hole christened 3C454.3 along with images of the Geminga and Crab pulsars.

Most of us have got used to the series of beautiful and stunning images from Hubble over the last many years. Now, as Hubble’s future remains uncertain at the hands of short sighted science policy managers, it has a competitor in another region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

GLAST has now been renamed Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

In this connection, I have always been slightly leery of having each news item in Nature opened to discussion through the Comments section. Science thrives and progresses through debate and discussion (or through falsification in Popper’s famous equation), but such discussion have meaning when it is between informed participants. Most of the discussions in the comments sections are by tyros and self styled scientists who, as in this case, proclaim there cannot be any black hole or in another recent news item about the LHC, claim that old bromide about how the LHC will destroy the world because of the production of black holes.

What purpose is served by giving crackpots (yes, indeed that’s what they are) this forum to flaunt their ill-informed fantasies, that too in the pages of a science journal like Nature? Here is an extract from a particularly long and fatuous comment: These experiments to date have so far produced infinitely more questions than answers but there isn’t a particle physicist alive who wouldn’t gladly trade his life to glimpse the “God particle”, and sacrifice the rest of us with him. Reason and common sense will tell you that the risks far outweigh any potential(as CERN physicists themselves say) benefits. Who are these CERN physicists and who are these suicidal maniacs who are preparing to lay down their lives to see the Higgs? Does such a discussion column merit an existence?

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