Friday, November 9, 2007

We're Number One!

… for Number One! Or Number Two!

Before reading this blog post, please read the header bar, the red-background thing at the top of the page. Carefully. It will enhance your appreciation of this post.

The new DeAnza Planetarium is close to being complete. Without stretching things too much, I can safely say that it, as it exists right now, has the highest and broadest arsenal of planetarium technology that exists in any dome anywhere in the world. It has the most recent optical-mechanical projection system for realism (the Konica-Minolta Infinium-S) and a mind-blowing full-hemisphere digital projection system for audience- immersion sensation that renders I-Max quaint. Really. Visualize a movie projected on your entire sky. We do that now.

All that’s left until the Planetarium is finished (for this staggering round of improvements) is the installation of a hyped-up immersive sound system, for which the College District Board of Trustees just approved $100,000-plus at its meeting last Monday. That takes the total investment by the District in the new Planetarium to well over four million dollars. Even given the recent trashing of the dollar compared to the Euro, the Canadian dollar, and the Gallon of Gasoline, that’s a pretty big investment for a little astronomy department! (Of course, it's also about what Alex Rodriguez gets paid for playing baseball for a month.)

The official "ribbon-cutting", with dignitaries from the high-tech firms involved in the project will be on December 1st.

Before going elsewhere with this, and even though I don’t speak for my employer and vice versa, I need and want and am joyfully happy to say this:

Thank you! Thank you so DAMN much to the voters in the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District! You have voted, over and over again, to support us via bond measures and self-taxation. You’ve done that for the generation since “Propositon 13” pulled traditional modes of local funding away from us. Your most recent bestowals in this decade, more than a billion dollars, has re-assured Foothill and DeAnza Colleges’ place as the pre-eminent Community College system in the nation. We will try to make you not only satisfied, but proud. And we will succeed in doing that, as we have always done.


The DeAnza student newspaper, La Voz, has published several good stories about the Planetarium renovation project, all very appropriately enthusiastic. But the most recent issue of the weekly fishwrap bestowed the one most treasured blessing -- way, way beyond any mere scientific or technological kudos -- for this descendant of Sir John Harrington (click on an image to make it legible):

... zooming in: ...

I think I’ll put up a little print of this picture:

on the wall of each restroom. It’s ol’ John. He’d be pleased, I think.



ronnie said...

So softer toilet paper is what the good taxpayers' dollars have been funding?

How can your staff be worrying about details like softer toilet paper when they're supposed to be thinking about Mars and Uranus?

It's a scandal! One Sir John would've appreciated thoroughly.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Please tell us you're not joking and that you really are going to put up the Sir John pictures in the restrooms! O please!

Mike said...

While gentlemen of our age can certainly appreciate the scientific advances represented by the planetarium, we are also particularly aware that the stars will still be up there when we are finished. And I do not mean dead. The soft toilet paper is a nice touch, but my chief concern would be getting from the planetarium to the jakes without admitting a huge shaft of light and disturbing the proceedings.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Mike - the jakes/johns are entered from the lobby. The lobby is connected to the planetarium chamber by way of a long shaft -- er, passageway called a "light lock" that skirts the chamber wall.

Ruth - Too easy targets for defacement, I'm afraid. This post did spur me to hang one in the main loo here at the Fort, though.

Ronnie - We don't do much thinking about Mars there.