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China can't find anyone to run the world's largest telescope

By midian182 · 10 replies
Aug 8, 2017
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  1. It was back in July last year when China finished work on the world’s largest single-aperture telescope. It took five years and $180 million to build the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, which was switched on in September. But there’s a problem – nobody wants the job of overseeing the facility.

    According to the South China Morning Post, the telescope’s owner - The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) – has been looking overseas for candidates to take on the role of FAST’s operator-in-chief because no local astronomers have the required experience.

    “The post is currently open to scientists working outside China only. Candidates can be of any nationality, any race,” a human resources official at the academy’s bureau of personnel told the publication.

    The position’s pay is comparable to similar jobs found in the west. The head of the facility will also receive eight million yuan in research funding and subsidies such as free housing.

    But finding a suitable person – and someone who wants the job – isn’t proving easy. Candidates must have 20 years’ experience, had a leading role at a similar project, offer plenty of managerial experience, and hold a professorship - or equally senior position - in a world-leading research institute or university.

    Language barriers and cultural differences are also reported to be hurdles, as is the requirement to live in the mountains of Guizhou, a relatively poor location in one of the country’s least developed areas.

    Strangely, other reports say the Chinese government and CAS are denying the South China Morning Post’s claims. CAS says there is no current recruitment drive, and that the leadership position has been filled since July last year, though it failed to name the person running the facility. Several scientists working at the telescope refused to comment on the matter, saying it could lead to “political trouble.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,478   +3,036

    Sounds like a really $hitty job. They are expecting a well-credited CEO to live in a place where he can't have a decent life because his money can't buy there anything, as there is even no proper infrastructure in that area, and literally no shops in a 100km radius.
    Knot Schure likes this.
  3. “The post is currently open to scientists working outside China only. Candidates can be of any nationality, any race”.

    That's sort of like when fast food joints proudly advertise they're using real food.
  4. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Posts: 1,762   +387

    "Our burgers are made from real beef!"

    Uh, I sure hope so.

    Jokes aside, I agree with VitalyT. It's a remarkable accomplishment on China's part, but you're going to have to find a CEO who's REALLY sick of the hustle and bustle of modern life to fill this position.
  5. Paulos7

    Paulos7 TS Booster Posts: 35   +33

    Well, if they can’t find somebody to run the place, it would make a great skateboard park. They could call it “The Great Bowl of China”.
    kcfens, TempleOrion and erickmendes like this.
  6. mgwerner

    mgwerner TS Booster Posts: 69   +45

    China is a shitty place to live and work, and that is in a Tier 1 City. I cannot imagine there are many qualified scientists who would put up with the internet censorship - limited access to professional journals, associations, etc.; and having all of your data required to be cleared by the government before being sent out of the country - in order to work on a cool telescope.

    It's not the movies, where you have some brilliant hermit-like person who takes the job. Arecibo is a much better posting with infrastructure nearby.
    Knot Schure likes this.
  7. amyacker

    amyacker TS Rookie

    If you read the article the qualifications are so strict only 40 astronomers in the world would qualify for the job.
    Knot Schure and TempleOrion like this.
  8. Confucius say,

    "Do not put a cart ahead of a horse."

    They did not listen to Confucius.
  9. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,963   +577

    Yeah they would have to dangle a much greater carrot than simply "comparable" to other similarly qualified positions considering the other issues with the post.
  10. kcfens

    kcfens TS Rookie

    Who did they think would run it? Reminds me of the cartoon my Physics teacher had on his door: "Two years of graduate school getting a degree in Astronomy and I never realized I would have to work nights"
  11. UseGeneral

    UseGeneral TS Rookie

    Chinese government won't admit to this because they will lose "face." I wonder if they are aware of the reputation of China in the eyes of common citizens around the world. Generally speaking and correct me if I'm wrong, China is not a place where people want to live or work if there are choices.
    Knot Schure likes this.

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