Edward R. Ricciuti '59 | February 25, 2021
When the epic radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, gave up the ghost on December 1 — literally falling to pieces as its skeletal instrumentation platform brought almost 1,000 tons of steel crashing down 500 feet through its 19-acre reflector dish — I felt a sense of personal loss.
The death of that revered astronomical instrument, storied for probing the far reaches of the universe, made me more aware than ever that my own story is in its final chapters. And, for some moments, I reflected on words I’ve written and pages I’ve turned to get here.
Since I wore a younger man’s clothes, I have felt an abiding connection to that radio telescope — until 2016 the world’s biggest, its dish of aluminum panels, 1,000 feet across, supported by steel mesh cradled in a sinkhole of Arecibo’s classic karst landscape, sculpted by the dissolution and erosion of limestone.
Arecibo’s telescope and my career as a journalist and writer were both spanking new when, in the middle of another century, I stood on that platform, looking out over mountaintops covered with deep green tropical forest to a sparkling blue sea in the distance. Arecibo was then the talk of the scientific world, only two years old when I arrived to write about it for Science World magazine in 1965. I only half realized it at the time, but that visit marked a pivotal moment in both my life and my career, leaving Arecibo etched in my memory.
Read more here.