If you happen to be near Birmingham tomorrow night, you may want to attend a public lecture that is part of the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM). It will be in the physics building at the University of Birmingham at 7pm. The talk is titled "When telescopes go bad" and will be given by Fred Watson of the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Here is the description:
On the eve of the telescope's 400th birthday, astronomers are planning a new generation of giant optical (visible-light) telescopes that promise to transform our view of the Universe. But the history of humankind's most far-sighted invention is littered with projects that for one reason or another have failed to live up to expectations. How can we be sure that the new facilities will succeed in delivering the goods?