thebattalion ● thursday,
january 23, 2014
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A&M, others race to fund world’s largest telescope John Rangel The Battalion
exas’ race to help build the world’s largest telescope may be in jeopardy if Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin, among other institutions, do not find a way to meet funding requirements within the next year. Texas A&M and UT are two of the nine partners that make up the Giant Magellan Telescope Project, an international collaboration that aims to build an observatory in the Andes Mountains capable of producing images 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. Texas A&M and UT astronomers agree that the GMT will revolutionize astronomy in the future — if it is funded now. A Slice of the Sky Last week, an outside review committee conducted a Preliminary Design Review on the GMT project and recommended that the telescope “start the construction phase as rapidly as possible.” See Telescope on page 2
Conceptual image of the Giant Magellan Telescope Project shows what the telescope could look like if fully funded.
AGGIE IN ORBIT
Former student prepares for third stint in ISS
Steven Swanson, NASA astronaut, will be making his third trip to the International Space Station on March 25. Swanson received his doctorate in computer science from Texas A&M. On his two previous trips to the ISS, Swanson and his team spent two weeks in space. This mission, using a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, will last for five and a half months. He spoke with Jennifer Reiley, Battalion city editor, on Tuesday.
I always knew I was interested in science and engineering and of course I got degrees in that, but I really hadn’t thought about — in great detail — exactly what I wanted to do. And then I thought about I wanted something that’s mentally challenging and I want something that can be physically challenging, and also if I could get some adventure in there, and all that kind of stuff led to being an astronaut.
THE BATTALION: Why did you want to be an astronaut?
THE BATTALION: What was something unexpected that happened on your first trip into space?
SWANSON: That’s a good question. I didn’t even think about it until I finished my master’s, and that’s when I decided about what I wanted to do in my life.
SWANSON: For us, an issue was we had a tear in our thermal blanket on the shuttle — we had to repair that. That
Steven Swanson, who earned his doctorate at A&M, will soon make his third trip to the International Space Station. was different. We also had issues with the Russian computers on the space station when we were attached to the space station. They failed and it caused lots of interesting things that we had to
do. Those were two little issues that we had, but overall it was a pretty smooth mission. It was a great amount of fun.
A&M takes win streak on road
Classics prof reconstructs Renaissance language study
SEC Player of Week Walker leads Aggies against Missouri Clay Koepke The Battalion
fter a 73-35 trouncing of the Mississippi State Bulldogs Sunday, the No. 17 Texas A&M women’s basketball team will head to Columbia, Mo., to take on the Missouri Tigers at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Aggies (15-4, 5-0 SEC) enter Thursday’s matchup riding an eight-game win streak, including victories in all five conference games. During the streak, Texas A&M has been led by sophomore guards Courtney Williams and Jordan Jones. Williams is the reigning SEC Player of the Week and has scored 18.3 points per game during the streak. Jones, who was named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List, has dished out 7.6 assists and scored 8.6 points per game during that span. After starting the season 13-3, Missouri (13-5, 2-3 SEC) enters the match on a two-game losing streak. Offensively, the Tigers are averaging 10.1 three-pointers See Missouri on page 3
See Swanson on page 2
Jenna Rabel — THE BATTALION
Senior center Karla Gilbert slots third on the team with 9.5 points per game.
hether they were captured by voices echoing off ancient stone walls or flowing out in scrawled hand on parchment, epics and stories have long seized and secured the mind. And for those analyzing these works and words, it’s not always what you say — but how you say it. Federica Ciccolella, professor of classics and Italian in the Department of International Studies, led a discussion Wednesday at the Glasscock Center Library’s informal coffee hour. Ciccolella analyzes the Greek revival in the Renaissance, paying particular focus to the grammar and structure of the materials contemporary humanists used to acquire their knowledge of the Greek language. “I started learning Greek in high school then went to Greece with my parents,” Ciccolella said. “I literally fell
Anna Davidson — THE BATTALION
Federica Ciccolella, professor of classics and Italian, leads a discussion about her analysis of the Greek revival in the Renaissance. in love with the classics. So when I went to college, that’s what I graduated in.” While working on her doctorate in classical philology in Italy, she taught Italian, Latin and Greek history and geography before coming to the U.S. to pursue another doctorate in classical See Ciccolella on page 3
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Telescope Continued from page 1
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“The telescope is technically on track, the plans are in place, the management and systems engineering are going really well,” said Darren DePoy, physics professor at Texas A&M and member of GMT’s board of directors. “The last thing to do now is raise enough money to go build all of it.” The GMT’s total cost is estimated to be $1.05 billion. So far, the nine partners have collectively raised close to $500 million. Each partner institution aims to raise 10 percent of the total cost for viewing rights on the completed telescope; however, the amount that each has pledged for their slice of the sky varies, with one Texas partner lagging behind, DePoy said. “There are two institutions that have not contributed a very large amount of money up until now, and those two institutions are the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Texas,” DePoy said. Ten percent of the total cost is $100 million, and UT has pledged only $3.4 million to date. Texas A&M has pledged $30 million of
thebattalion its expected share, and both institutions are working now to meet their obligations by year’s end, a deadline DePoy described as critical. “There are many different factors that play into whether to start [construction] or not,” DePoy said. “One of them was passing this design review, which we just did. Another one is, do we have enough money to feel comfortable to start? If we delay making this decision, then you delay the start of some of these major construction items, and that has a cost associated.” DePoy said delaying would increase cost through inflation and keep a project staff on the payroll even though no construction would be taking place.
Paying the Bills
Texas A&M’s contribution has so far come largely from the philanthropic activity of the late George P. Mitchell, Class of 1940. His donations to the Texas A&M physics department, coupled with internal funds, constitute Texas A&M’s current raised capital. Joseph Newton, dean of Texas A&M’s College of Science, said A&M is working to finalize an additional $25 million contribution. “It’s very complicated,
Swanson Continued from page 1
THE BATTALION: What’s your favorite thing about going into space? SWANSON: The launch of course is a fantastic ride — it’s quite exciting. My favorite thing is just being in space and the whole floating aspect of it. I just have a great time doing it. It’s like being a kid and finding the best playground in the world and just getting to play on it all day long. THE BATTALION: What will be the main difference going to space for five and a half months versus going for two weeks? SWANSON: I think the main difference is really getting to adapt and learn what it’s like to live in space. For two weeks on a shuttle mission, you can kind of just cruise along and not really have to adapt fully. You can make anything work for two weeks. When you live there for five and a half months, you’re going to really have to adapt completely and become very comfortable in that environment. That’s the big difference. It’s going to be like living in a country for half a year versus visiting a country for two weeks. The difference is tremendous. THE BATTALION: Will you be able to contact your family while you’re up there?
but we’re close to finalizing [$25 million],” Newton said. “[It will come] partly from the University, partly donations and once the telescope is built we can sell some of our ‘nights’ for a few years [as funding.]” David Lambert, director of UT’s McDonald Observatory and member of GMT’s board of directors, said UT is working to fill the fundraising gap between it and the GMT’s other partners. “Our goal is to be a 10 percent partner, which in round numbers is $100 million,” Lambert said. “And the prospect of that $100 million will be raised by half coming from the institution and half from private fundraising.” Lambert acknowledged the critical time period that DePoy discussed, but said the sheer size of the undertaking has been a challenge of its own. “The principal object of difficulty is the size of the request,” Lambert said. “It’s not easy these days to come across $100 million.”
A reason to begin construction within the year, apart from costly delay, is the prestige of being the first to
view the universe with such a powerful instrument. The GMT is not the only nextgeneration telescope being planned and may be at risk of losing its head start. DePoy named two other telescopes on the GMT’s scale that are currently in the planning stages — the Thirty Meter Telescope, planned by a consortium of Californian universities, Japan, China and India and the European Extremely Large Telescope, by an assortment of European countries. “There’s a vast amount of science that we’ll be able to do and whatever group gets the telescope built first will do those interesting things,” DePoy said. Lambert said Texas has a chance at securing its position at the forefront of astronomy through the coming years, if Texas A&M and UT can come through on their financial pledges. “The GMT gives astronomers here access to a premier optimal instrument to probe the frontiers of astronomy across several areas,” Lambert said. “If you want to be a firstclass institution, you have to have access to first class facilities, and GMT is precisely that.”
SWANSON: Yes. We have the ability to make some phone calls now and then, which is great. I’ll even get a video teleconference once a week with my family, and we do email of course. THE BATTALION: You’ve said before that you like to spend time camping. If it would be possible in the future, would you consider camping in space? SWANSON: That’s an interesting idea. Going into space is sort of like camping itself. We sleep in sleeping bags; we eat food that is very similar to camping food. It’s just in a different environment. You don’t have all the comforts of living at home and that’s similar to camping, just the job we do is a little bit different. We’re doing science versus hiking, fishing and all that. I guess it would be kind of fun to go off someplace on another planet and set up a pseudo-tent that we could use and hang out there for a while. THE BATTALION: If you hadn’t become an astronaut, what would you do? SWANSON: I would definitely still be in the science and engineering field somewhere, probably living up in the mountains and enjoying that area. I don’t know what exactly I’d be doing. If I could find some kind of job with science and engineering in the outdoors, that would be probably best for me.
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Missouri Continued from page 1
per game, which is the secondhighest mark in the country, but will be up against an Aggie defense that ranks second in three-point field goal defense. Missouri also comes into Thursday’s matchup with the SEC’s leading scorer and senior forward, Bri Kulas, who averages 25.0 points per game in conference play. “Do we have an advantage inside? Yes,” said Gary Blair, A&M head coach. “Do they have an advantage shooting a three ball? Yes. Do we have an advantage hopefully with our half court defense? Hopefully I can say ‘yes’ after the game on Thursday.” A win in Thursday’s game would move the Aggies win streak over Missouri to 11, maintaining sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the SEC standings. “I love where we are right now,” Blair said. “I love being the hunted instead of always being the hunter. I think it’s good for the morale of our team, it’s good for our fan base — and hopefully that
Ciccolella Continued from page 1
studies from Columbia where she began her research in the Greek Revival and the Renaissance. In 2012, she received a Glasscock Faculty Research Fellowship to conduct research at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, which preserves most of the manuscripts from the library of Andreas Donos, who taught Greek in 16thcentury Crete while the island was under Venetian rule. Ciccolella said she believed the manuscripts were gathered and organized at random after Donos’ death because the levels of grammar instruction ranged from elementary to upper levels in no coherent order. “I have over 70 pages of analysis of the manuscript and
will show up with butts in seats come Sunday when we play our next home game.” Following its meeting with the Tigers, A&M will return home at 3 p.m. Sun-
day in Reed Arena for a battle against the No. 11 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (14-4, 3-2 SEC). The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
thebattalion THE INDEPENDENT STUDENT VOICE OF TEXAS A&M SINCE 1893
Jake Walker, Editor in Chief THE BATTALION is published daily, Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters and Tuesday and Thursday during the summer session (except University holidays and exam periods) at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. Offices are in Suite L400 of the Memorial Student Center. News: The Battalion news department is managed by students at Texas A&M University in Student Media, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs. Newsroom phone: 979-845-3315; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: http://www.thebatt.com. Advertising: Publication of advertising does not imply sponsorship or endorsement by The Battalion. For campus, local, and national display advertising, call 979-845-2687. For classified advertising, call 979-845-0569. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Email: email@example.com. Subscriptions: A part of the Student Services Fee entitles each Texas A&M student to pick up a single copy of The Battalion. First copy free, additional copies $1.
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Jenna Rabel — THE BATTALION
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I could work another 10 years without being finished,” Ciccolella said. Since Donos’ students included native Greek speakers as well as members of the Venetian ruling class, his manuscripts are a valuable resource for researchers interested in understanding how Greek was taught in an area of intense interaction between Eastern and Western cultures, Ciccolella said. “I think it is typical of people living on the border of an empire to protect their culture more fiercely,” Ciccolella said. “Crete was on the border, they tried to save their culture in classics such as Homer’s ‘Odyssey.’ It’s not just grammar — it involves the culture of land that is influenced by many. Preservation verses adaptation.” The debates and pressures faced by the Cretans Cic-
colella is studying, though far removed by time, are similar to those faced by ethnic minority members in Texas, said Sarah Misemer, associate director for the Glasscock Center and associate professor of Hispanic studies. Ciccolella is coediting a volume of essays on various aspects of the teaching and learning of Greek during the Renaissance. The next stage is putting all of this research on paper, she said, with hopes of being published in 2015. “I’m fascinated by the way [she] highlights things that are overlooked and misunderstood,” said Nathan Bracher, French professor. “Grammar is a key form of identity for a people.” Donna Malak, communication specialist for the Glasscock center, said guests speak from 9-10 a.m. every other Wednesday.
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thebattalion 1.23.2014 page4
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