Lyrid meteor shower over Crater Lake on the night of April 24, 2012 by photographer Brad Goldpaint
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In 1999, the World Conference on Science made a rather succinct statement: “Equal access to scientific knowledge is not only a social and ethical requirement of human development, but also constitutes a fundamental requirement for fully developing the potential of scientific communities around the world and to guide scientific research. development to meet the needs of humanity.
ALMA Data Warehouse – a gold mine
Taking advantage of this free access, my research team has been analyzing and observing for over a year now, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA), an advanced (so far) radio astronomy instrument, with the aim of competing with the best research groups in the world. The ALMA data warehouse is a veritable gold mine, a stroke of luck that has enabled a breakthrough in our research potential. ALMA is an enormous system with sixty 12 gauge or 7 m portable antennas, with a baseline of up to 16 km, located at 5000 m altitude on the Atacama desert plateau in Chile. It observes at wavelengths from 3 mm to 400 μm (84 to 720 GHz). Unrivaled sensitivity, spatial and spectral resolution offer a clear improvement over other contemporary instruments. It is operated in cooperation between Europe, the United States and Japan, with contributions from Canada, Taiwan, South Korea and Chile. The goal of making observations freely available to the public is clearly expressed in the resolution adopted in 2003 by the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union: Recognizing that scientific progress must be based on access to complete and free data; that for the benefit of astronomy as a whole, data archives should be made as widely accessible as possible, particularly in the context of current Internet technology, which can help to do this economically and efficiently; that the development of the Online Observatory will enable the effective use of such archives, thereby increasing the efficiency and scientific output of astronomical research.
Whereas there may be times when the right to use observation time at important astronomical facilities may be necessary and reasonably limited for financial or other reasons; that once data is acquired from these devices, access to the data is generally limited as necessary and reasonable for a certain period of time (“exclusivity period”, generally one to two years). to observers, students, instrument makers or certain other specific groups, so that after investing time and resources in observing activities at the observatory, they will have sufficient opportunities to publish its results; but after the exclusivity period, in many cases the data must be placed in a repository where it is more widely accessible to the public;[Vì vậy] data obtained from publicly funded national or international observatories during the exclusivity period will be made available only to observers or certain users, but after the exclusivity period they must be exclusively placed in an archive where all astronomy researchers can access it via the Internet. The data must be accompanied by metadata and other information or tools to ensure their scientific value. The form and processing of data may be appropriately protected by copyright law, but the use of data archives for legitimate purposes (including educational purposes) should not be limited. ); Funding agencies should advocate and support that data from the astronomical research they fund be placed in archives for unrestricted public access, after the end of the data exclusivity period. The above views are widely accepted in the astronomical scientific community, and much effort and money has been invested to correctly follow these instructions. Specifically, in the case of ALMA, the raw data has been processed by the specialized service into a form suitable for users, and at the same time, users also benefit from question and answer services from the specialized service. It can be said that the ALMA team has put a lot of effort into helping process the data to meet the needs of the public. With this, ALMA data can be widely used, whether the user leads research groups around the world or any other. group like our group in Vietnam. The only cost is waiting a year. In a country where support for basic science, not only materially but also spiritually, is very weak, this is a truly valuable asset that must be fully exploited.
Perhaps those responsible for S&T and education and training in Vietnam do not properly appreciate the value of this opportunity; Many people still think that Vietnam should focus on investment in equipment and facilities, or think that if they want to participate in international cooperation programs, they have to pay very high fees. When in reality we need to invest in brainpower and not in concrete buildings or expensive equipment imported from abroad.
So, provided that observation of the Universe is also completely free, it is a good time to encourage national research in astronomy. Managers should have policies to support training, support seminars, and sponsor short-term visiting activities for international or foreign Vietnamese scientists.
Currently, many students are sent abroad to study master’s and doctoral degrees. We need to fund their research projects when they return home to make the best use of their skills and talents. These projects may be very small and do not require much cost, but if we invest in the right place, the benefits are many. If they cannot do this, their talents will quickly disappear and the resources invested in their training will be completely wasted. They will have to find income in other jobs and their minds will be removed from science and research.
I would like to end this article with a quote from a group of American scientists involved in processing huge amounts of astronomical data (RJ Brunner, SG Djorgovsky, TA Prince and AS Szalay, Handbook of Datasets big data, Kluwer Academic Publishing, Norwell , Massachusetts). USA, 2002, p.931-979): A major change is occurring in the field of astronomy and space sciences. Astronomy has suddenly become a data-rich field, with a wealth of digitized information on the results of sky surveys at many different wavelengths. […] We can now map the Universe systematically and in color. This opens the way to new scientific research, both quantitative and qualitative. […], enables scientists and students around the world, even without direct access to large telescopes, to conduct high-quality research. This will energize the industry, opening the door to unprecedented amounts of data for new talent.