Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) – Science vs. Culture?

The Thirty Meter Telescope will be the
largest telescope ever built in the northern hemisphere, but what happens
when science is in conflict with culture? Hello everyone I’m Christian Ready, your
friendly neighborhood astronomer, and if this is your first time here, welcome and
please be sure to hit the Subscribe button and tap that notification bell so
that you don’t miss out on any new videos. Current plans call for the TMT to
be built on top of Mauna Kea which is an extinct volcano on the Big Island of
Hawaii. Mauna Kea is home to some of the world’s largest telescopes, including the
twin 10-meter Keck telescopes. But it’s no understatement to say that there’s
real controversy surrounding whether or not to build TMT atop Mauna Kea. Mauna
Kea is the home of the Native Hawaiians’ gods and therefore is considered sacred
ground for some Native Hawaiian groups. Now we’re going to talk more about the
controversy surrounding TMT in just a moment, but first let’s talk a little bit
about the telescope itself. In astronomy, bigger is better. Telescopes need to be
made as large as possible so as to collect as much light as possible and
therefore allow us to probe deeper and deeper into the universe. To build
mirrors larger than 8 meters across multiple, mirrors are brought together to
act as one giant mirror. For example, the twin Keck telescopes atop Mauna Kea use
36 hexagonal segments to act as a single 10 meter diameter mirror. But TMT will
combine 492 segments to form a giant 30 meter diameter mirror. Each mirror is 1.4
meters across but only 45 millimeters thick.
That’s a little less than 2 inches. That means that the mirrors are lightweight,
easier to manufacture, and much easier to remove and clean and replace as needed.
Star light reflects off of the primary mirror and bounces up to the secondary,
which then redirects the light beam down to the tertiary mirror. But this tertiary
can rotate and pivot up and down to direct the light beam into any one of
the scientific instruments located on the Nasmyth platforms on either side of
the telescope. Of course, TMT will come standard with
the latest adaptive optics technology, and this will allow the telescope to
achieve a resolution that is ten times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.
The telescope is also protected by a special enclosure called a Calotte dome.
This design was chosen to reduce construction costs as well as to keep
the overall footprint of the telescope as small as possible. Now at night the
enclosure has to be able to pivot to allow the telescope to point anywhere in
the sky it needs to, but it will also be equipped with a sophisticated
ventilation system that will keep a uniform column of smooth air over the
mirrors at all times. This will ensure that images are free from any distortion
caused by turbulence inside the dome. But a telescope this advanced needs to be
located under the clearest and driest skies available. This is to improve
something called “Astronomical Seeing” and it’s something that we talked about in a
previous video. I’ll have a link to it up here so you can go check it out later. So
figuring out the location for the telescope took about five years. Several
sites were considered both in the northern and southern hemispheres. Since
we’re building the Giant Magellan Telescope and the European Extremely
Large Telescope in the high desert in Chile, it made sense to locate
TMT somewhere in the northern hemisphere. That brought the selection down to one
of two possible locations. The first is the La Palma Observatory in the Canary
Islands off the coast of Spain, the second is near the top of Mauna Kea
located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Now Mauna Kea was selected over La Palma
in the Canary Islands for several reasons, but the most important of them
is the fact that Mauna Kea is higher and drier.
Unfortunately, the placement of telescopes atop Mauna Kea has been a
sore subject for some Native Hawaiian groups. They argued that the mountain is
sacred ground and home to some of their gods. And this is where the story gets
very difficult to tell, partly out of cultural sensitivities but also because
I don’t have the legal expertise to really get into all of the details. But
I’ll give it a shot. The top of Mauna Kea is an environmental
conservation area. This means that TMT had to undergo
several reviews including environmental impact statements. Following reviews and
public hearings, the Hawaiian Bureau of Land and Natural Resources issued a
permit to allow construction to begin. However, the Hawaiian Supreme Court ruled
that BLNR acted prematurely and had to wait for a contested case to be
resolved before issuing the permit. Hearings on the contested case were held
throughout 2016 and early 2017. The chief hearing officer was retired Circuit
Court Judge Ricky May Amano. After four months of testimony, judge Amano issued a
300+ page report recommending that BLNR reissue the construction permit.
After BLNR conducted its review, it reissued the permit in September of 2017.
However the case was appealed to the Hawaiian Supreme Court on the grounds
that Judge Amano was not a fair and impartial hearing officer. By the way,
that was just one of the appeals, there was actually another appeal that was
heard in March. And on June 21st of this year, the Hawaiian State Supreme Court
heard arguments on both sides regarding the appeal. In the meantime, the TMT
International Organization has started to hedge its bets and has revisited
plans to move the telescope to La Palma in the Canary Islands if they cannot go
through with building on Mauna Kea. To that end, an agreement has been reached
with the Spanish government and a location on La Palma for TMT has been
selected. So at first blush it may seem to make sense to just pack it in and move the whole smash over to La Palma, but there are some problems
with this approach. The first has to do with the observing conditions – they’re
not as good at La Palma as they are at Mauna Kea, so TMT might not be able to
fully reach its scientific potential if it’s located there. The second is, believe
It or not, cultural. Hawaii is the center of world-class astronomy and TMT would
continue in that tradition. The TMT organization donates $1 million a
year for STEM education and scholarships. Not only that, but a recent
poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling showed that 77% of Hawaiians favored TMT
and its support among Native Hawaiians was two-to-one in favor of the project.
Now obviously it doesn’t really matter what I think, or what even the people of
Hawaii think. Right now what matters is what the Supreme Court of Hawaii thinks, and we’re gonna be finding out about that in the months to come. But as long
as we’re waiting for the Hawaiian court to issue its decision, we may as well
speculate about it. What do you think should happen? Should the court agree
with the protesters or agree with TMT? If they do agree with TMT, should TMT
proceeded to build atop Mauna Kea, or should they just go ahead and move it
all over to the Canary Islands? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and
I’ll be sure to check them out. By the way, if you like telescopes, I’ve got some
more videos on some of the giant telescopes that are under construction
right over here. There’s also an entire channel, so please feel free to check it
out and subscribe and be sure to hit that notification icon so that you don’t
miss out on any new videos. Thank you so much for watching, and keep watching the

  • I think it is just a way for all of the protesters to blow off steam!! ALL of them that are up there are telling the hole planet that Hawaii DOSE NOT want the the telescope to be built. That is slimly not the case!! some are up there that oppose the idea, those people are just up there to have a good time as it looks to me on news clips. I think it should be build for all man kind. the people that do not want it built are not stupid they are just brain washed into thinking this is a bad idea because of the vary small amount of people with vary loud voice's and bullies in the communities and in the state of Hawaii.

  • It's not science vs culture it's greed vs culture. There's already a telescope in Chile that's better than this one will be twelve years from now. It's all about money. Hawaii lawmakers want another long construction project to milk to death like the railway project.

  • Science vs. Culture? Simple build it somewhere else. In this present times we need to preserve our Hawaiian Culture. No culture equals no Hawaiians. Fight for our culture.

  • All I want to know is who's building the telescope and who sold the land to them. Maybe the protesters should've said something BEFORE the land was sold.

  • didn't convince me.  I like science and math.  but there's comes a time that too many a times the white man western culture has this philosophy of take, take, and take.  and i'm tired of that.  I am not Hawaiian.  I am of Filipino ancestry raised in sugar plantation village culture which the white man has build, prospered, and when it couldn't make his money, left it and let it die.

  • They need to take the TMT to the Canary islands. We are done with americas desecration here in my Hawai'i. We love science. But. We won't let desecration happen in the name of it.
    MaunaKea is A Burial site, place of worship and home to a very sensitive and rare ecosystem. I believe that any TMT supporters who further educate them selves on the subject will no long wish TMT to destroy Hawai'i.

  • Give me a break! Science should take a back seat on this telescope. The people (native Hawaiians) should keep Mauna Kea as sacred as possible. Simple solution… Get rid of one of the older telescopes and then put the new one in its place.

  • Fk culture. science should be at fronts of all human kind. Ignorancein culture and religion is keeping human kind back

  • First of all, respecting their culture is far more important than building a giant telescope. Seeing how the "white man" is always trying to protect his own culture. Whether it be only teaching "the white history" in American schools even though America is supposed to be a "melting pot" and nobody else's culture is ever "properly taught". White America abuses the fact of them being a "superpower" and a majority to bully other minorities and think that it's not a big deal to build the telescope but would never let anyone touch their "white culture". They're honestly just treating the Hawaiians like the treated the Native Americans, stealing the land and destroying the culture.

  • Would you build on the Temple Mount? Dome of the Rock? Heck all of the Holy City of Jerusalem. It’s a scared and important place to the people of Hawaii, Hawaiian and Non Hawaiians. Balance people. Will TMT solve the mysteries and problems of our society/earth?


  • This is spreading propaganda, I live in hawaii Native or not ive never heard ONE civilian who wants TMT here. The only one who wants TMT is our dirty politicians. Our CHIEF of POLICE has been indicted and so has his wife our deputy prosecutor for drugs, theft, framing innocent people into prison. (Their own family I add) Dont believe me, Just google Louis Kealoha

  • We are NOT PROTESTERS! We are PROTECTORS!!!! We are protecting land that is sacred to the people of Hawaii. We are PROTECTING our home from being destroyed by another billion dollar company that doesnt give to shits about anything but money. I may not be Hawaiian but Hawaii is MY home! I will stand amd fight to PROTECT MY home. I will stand with the native Hawaiian people and help PROTECT the culture, their sacred lands, and their way of life. KU KIA'I MAUNA!!!!!

  • a’ole tmt get this nasty tings offfffff nowwwwww they DO NOT BELONG ON OUR MAUNA 🔺✊🏽KŪ KIAʻI MAUNA, mauna a wakea

  • Get out of Hawaii!
    Ku Kia’i Mauna🔺💕
    Go to Canary Islands! Get your facts straight! These islands does not belong to America!! Stupid!!

  • This is about scientific imperialism, Mr Western White Professor. And you have the audacity to claim astronomy culture?? GTFO with that mess. You're what's wrong with the field

  • On one hand I agree with preservation of land and respectful of people’s customs and beliefs; but I also believe in scientific and human advancement. People talk about customs and traditions, while driving in a car, using an iPhone to post on social media, and taking meds for heart conditions. This is the world all over, we tend to pick and choose what benefits us… Ultimately there needs to be some compromise. Remove the older telescopes, build a new one that doesn’t destroy the landscape, and invest back into the local community. That’s my thoughts .

  • Why don't you put that telescope on the worlds tallest building? Make your own tower of babylon in your own back yard!

  • You say you don't have a legal expertise yet you give it a try but I don't see you giving a try to cultural aspect of the issue. You almost talk nothing about cultural part yet name the video science v culture. I am not a Hawaiian but my heart is with those people protecting their sacred lands, in fact I am from a country some people might think that we would not care about these issues. I am from Turkey. I am also not against science but I am against when people interfere other people's spiritual connection to this world. We are lost in a world where we don't know the reason of our existence. Spirituality, beliefs, religions are things making us go, making us survive and holding on. Noone has right to pollute these connections. Those native people would also be against construction of something to Meccah, Jerusalem or Tibet. We are all Mauna Kea. Love from Turkey.

  • Most of the native Hawaiians dont agree but some locals on Hawaii do there is a difference ua mau ke ea I ka aina I ka pono

  • I learned that one reason for putting TMT on Mauna Kea was because they needed it to be somewhere cool enough to sustain the temperature of the telescope. There is a punawai (fresh water spring) under/ in the mauna that they would drill into and use to cool TMT while polluting that fresh water that could sustain the entire island of Hawaii for a very long time. You all say itʻs to better the knowledge of the future yet you are destroying it. I truly donʻt understand the extreme importance of getting pictures of stars. The Hawaiians arenʻt against science, there is much science within our culture already. For foreigners to come in and take our land for their pleasure is sickening. There should be a lot more respect for the cause and our efforts to keep what we believe is sacred. People truly need to educate themselves in depth about the mana (power) of the Hawaiian culture.

  • If the scientist were good, they would make changes and modifications to push it to its best abilities while in La Palma.

  • What I think is that TMT has no right to build on property that doesn't rightfully belong to them. If native Hawaiians feel they don't want anything built on their land then TMT should respect their wishes

  • Put it somewhere else!!! Do your research before you put out a video insinuating your giving a 2 sided look into a subject. Mauna Kea is SACRED !!! And the reason it has been stopped is because they have no legal jurisdiction to operate there. ALL Hawaiians stand together on this ALL ISLANDS STAND TOGETHER against the desecration of Mauna Kea! That is a lie that 77% of Hawaiians favor tmt. Are you meaning people that “reside” in Hawaii? Because if you are, simply residing here does not make one Hawaiian! To people like you there is nothing sacred. It’s not even an issue of Hawaiians VS Science. And I’m not sure who your trying to fool by putting this out there. AOLE TMT

  • If I were in charge I’d put all who protest the telescope in one giant room with no modern conveniences and see how that goes, give them no support nothing from other cultures and see what becomes of the fanatics. Build the scope!!!!

  • you will never find life outside our solar system…..never and you will never make it to MARS…..never….this is home….get over it!

  • You forgot to mention that by the time they finish building the telescope they would have to take it down in a matter of days because of the lease approval and it would be a waste of time and money.

    It is sacred to all Hawaiians, not just some.

  • Hawaiians have already lost their nation, their royal family, their culture, their language, their land, their water, their rights, their whole world. The State gave U of H the right to build ONE telescope on Mauna Kea. They built 13. Every time the Hawaiians give an inch, outsiders take a yard.
    Consider that before judging their views on a building the size of a 18 story Costco built on the holiest land in their ancient culture.

  • because…

    《A través de la larga y amarga experiencia, Rajasinghe había aprendido a no confiar nunca en primeras impresiones, pero también a nunca ignorarlas.》

    'The Fountains of Paradise' by Arthur C. Clarke [1979]

    🌎📡🎶🎵( (( 💜 )) )

  • I believe the court should rule based on the statistics, which show the majority of Hawaiian people still agree to the construction. I mean if a minority percent don't agree to a ruling and protest, and the majority agrees but does not protest, does it mean the minority should get the ruling ?

  • I pay taxes in Hawaii, part Hawaiian land owner on Hawaii and pro TMT! Build TMT where it belongs, on Mauna Kea! Put TMT in place of one of the decommissioned telescopes! Then it will be more visible! Also arrest the road blockers! Tow/impound their vehicles!

  • Who gives a flying (beep) sounds like the Tower of Babel all over again. And “some” of us know what happened with that

  • When polled 77% of Hawaiians want the telescope to be built so they rest of you need to sit down shut up stop smoking meth and get a job! Most of these people are white hipsters from California and have no business even being there. These people have already gotten everything they wanted and more yet they still won't move then they should be arrested for blocking a public road and trespassing. To build this they are already going to tear down 4 other telescopes and build a museum for the natives what more do you want? I don't think they understand that without the telescopes the whole areas economy would collapse and return to being like a third world country like it was before the telescopes.The criminals blocking the road are the only ones on the island who want to stop it and in fact most natives actually support the TMT because they know how good it is for the island but nobody talks to them just to the trouble makers. #WeSupportTMT #ThirtyMeterTelescope

  • Its so sad how you foreign people that have no connection to hawaii or our hawaiian culture have say in any of this!you guys see the hurt that our people are going through,knowing that everything about tmt on mauna kea is illegal,you all still push for it to happen!is it right for buildings to be built on your family's graves?is it right to break the law?is it right to stop people from their beliefs and religion? A'OLE! No!And the percentage of people that you say come from hawaiians is a lie!more than half the world is against putting tmt on mauna kea!we the people will continue to live,learn and speak the truth!we will continue our ways of kapu aloha!And we will continue to protect what protects us all!Aloha mauna kea!Aloha aina!we will continue to pray for all the broken hearts,meaning the ones that been hurt and the ones that their hearts dont work..especially those! KU KIA'I MAUNA!!!A'OLE TMT!canary islands want and need you there!No brainer right!make everyone happy?or hurt everyone?what makes more sense?

  • Knowledge is power. I believe many don't know or understand the importance of the Hawaiian people speaking up and why. I suggest that those that don't know or think they know by hearsay, do some research for themselves. With all due respect to the brilliant scientists involved with TMT, the Polynesians have been navigating the stars for many years and are also astronomers in their own respect and understand the importance of the skies. So it is not the science we are against. We all live on ONE earth, we are the keepers of it.

  • Agree with native Hawaiian protestors. Their land was already taken from them by the United States. Enough is enough!

  • … it's not just 'culture' .
    …within this culture, as within most older cultures which have not yet been dismembered …
    they contain the KEY to our further successful harmonious existance as humans on this earth.
    * I DO NOT WANT TO THROW AWAY THAT KEY ***. why would you ?

  • We have heard this before – A Sales propaganda sponsored by $$$ ! If we had that $$$, we would Improve our keiki education, social advancement, & better Healthcare ! In addition, Educate the keiki on their Responsibility for future keiki, just as we were ! We know what our keiki needs for the future – We know that the bs we keep hearing is working for Big $$$ Interests & Not for us ! This is Obvious – just follow the $$$ !

  • The State of Hawai`i, and the University of Hawai`i, and TMT arrested Hawaiian elders who sat on their own Native Hawaiian Lands (The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands). When is it most important for Science to arrest peaceful protectors who are harmless land loving elders? How is it that the TMT is able to anchor local police and the national guard to threaten harmless land loving elders? When is Science much more important then the indigenous peoples of this land?

  • last conditions is the amount of the corrupt tmt has thrown around that is sell out money,, and not the 1 dollar tmt will pay for rent on stolen land doesntgo to hawaiians,, next election you all done,, our hawaii not iges not tmts.. lokk at the earth space boy


  • First, take that Hawaiian shirt off. Your not Hawaiian and your not for the Hawaiian people(its disgusting for you warring it)! Second, please stop saying its "a small group of people opposing it"!! Your wrong about that too!!!! Three, your not from there or understand there culture so stop having an opinion on something that doesn't affect your life as it affects the Hawaiian people. Period. Your facts are really off!!!!

  • Why did you guys built HUBBLE telescope in space??? No can use rhat one or is it broken!! HUBBLE telescope is very, very expensive doing nothing. Why make pilikia building your expensive TOYS on our island mountain???? I beleive a place is kapu sacred is by culture sites burial sites culture practice sites. I very much like to see the telescope powerful like the 30 meter BUT did you gone through the right people for pernits. Why is there no kanaka maole nention on your palapala documwnts. Why because hawaiians are lolo??? There is already 13 telescopes on the.mountain. Did it help the community and people like you are saying now.?? What contribution has already been made?? There is more reasons besides education, science, and community here. What about foreign and military issues and control over kapu sacred lands and sites. Acrion speaks louder than words!! Sounds very good what was said and even governor Ige is convince it is good for hawaii and good for the world. But I am not convince this is not the TRUTH. Convince me TMT????

  • Instead of exploring space why don’t you use the money to try fix climate change 🤦‍♂️ Ige and this government don’t know what they doing

  • This is because these are third world people. Their are extremely racist. They even have segregated beaches on the Big Island. The police are corrupt and the third world government is also corrupt. If you are Hawaiian then you will be harassed and called racist names.

  • Science is important, but I actually wish they would put it on the island of La Palma! Why? Because science should always be a connecting undertaking. It always was and it should always be. It is part of our culture. Therefore it should never act against anything or anybody (the only exception might be stupid and potentially dangerous science deniers).

  • The Native Hawaiian objectors ought to consider that the only way that Hawaii was populated by their ancestors was because of some pretty incredible astro-navigation. So, far from detracting from Hawaiian cultural tradition, astronomy is extending the very basis of Hawaiian cultural tradition…

  • Brand the telescope a Japanese or Chinese telescope, and they will all love it. They just hate white people from America.

  • If I lived in Hawaii I'd be proud of my state's role as an important contributor to science and want that role to continue. That's culture, too.

  • They want TMT(28stories) so that astronomers can monitor the topographic design of meteors and planets for Interstellar mining purposes. Mauna Kea is the highest point on Earth from the ocean bottom. Which from the religious sense makes it the closest points to heaven yet they would never build such a monstrosity in Jerusalem. The telescope is only going to bring a 150 jobs vs 2000 jobs in a single hospital within the medical field.

  • It's more like science vs. jerks who dump mercury into the forest. What good is looking at planets we'll probably never visit if it's done in a way that damages the only one we get to live on? These are people's homes, and the mainland American scientists have shown ZERO good will towards the community, and treat valuable ecosystems like their own personal landfill. You're not entitled to facilities if you misuse them and exploit people in the process. If you can't even figure out basic ethics, then you shouldn't be in a scientific field.

  • I find it ignorant to block something such as a science telescope where others are already located. I can see where it could do no harm and be a revolutionary tool to learn more about the universe. I doubt that many there protesting it do not actually practice that religion at all. They are probably being obstinate fools at best.

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