Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: December 2013

14 - Organization and Functioning of the Astronomical Community


Whether we ultimately succeed or fail in determining the origin and early evolution of the Universe is likely to be determined by two competing factors. The first is the extent to which the high-temperature phases prevailing in the early Cosmos may have eradicated all memory of preceding epochs at the dawn of time; the second is the monetary cost of searching for shards of information that may have escaped erasure so we might recover and analyze the fragmentary surviving evidence.

The Larger Network in Which Astronomy Is Embedded

A part of the difficulty of accounting for the conduct and progress of astrophysics, even considering all the influences I have already cited, is that the field cannot be fully isolated from the far larger setting in which it is embedded.

Modern astronomy is expensive and competitive. It is expensive because powerful instrumentation is costly, whether it be telescopes or supercomputers. It also has to remain competitive because the cost of astronomical projects has to be justified at a national level where astronomy competes with other sciences for limited resources.

Seen from the perspective of an individual astronomer, these two factors lead to the need to continually justify the funding and potentially also the observing time required to initiate a project. First and foremost, this involves persuading the larger community of working astronomers to agree to the funding. Persuasion and its associated political activity within the field is part and parcel of the work of almost every established astrophysicist.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

In Search of the True Universe
  • Online ISBN: 9781107358409
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
1. Science – The Endless Frontier, Vannevar, Bush, reprinted by the National Science Foundation on its 40th Anniversary 1950–1990, National Science Foundation, 1990.
2. Transcript of Remarks on U.S. Space Policy, President George W. Bush, NASA release, Washington, DC, January 14, 2004.
3. The Limits of Settlement Growth: A Theoretical Outline, Roland, Fletcher. Cambridge University Press, 1995.
4. The Densities of Visual Binary Stars, E., Öpik, Astrophysical Journal, 44, 292–302, 1916.
5. An Estimate of the Distance of the Andromeda Nebula, E., Oepik, Astrophysical Journal, 55, 406–10, 1922.
6. Stellar Structure, Source of Energy, and Evolution, Ernst, Öpik, Publications de LObervatoire Astronomique de L'Université de Tartu, xxx, No. 3, 1–115, 1938.
7. Stellar Models with Variable Composition. II. Sequences of Models with Energy Generation Proportional to the Fifteenth Power of Temperature, E. J., Öpik, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 54, Section A, 49–77, 1951.
8. About Dogma in Science and other Recollections of an Astronomer, E. J., Öpik, Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 15, 1–17, 1977.
9. Constructing Quarks – A Sociological History of Particle Physics, Andrew, Pickering. University of Chicago Press, 1984.
10. Weimar Culture, Causality, and Quantum Theory, 1918–1927: Adaptation by German Physicists and Mathematicians to a Hostile Intellectual Environment, Paul, Forman, Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, 3, 1–115, 1971.
11. The structure of scientific collaboration networks, M. E. J., Newman, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 98, 404–09, 2001.
12. How Experiments End, Peter, Galison, University of Chicago Press, 1987, pp. 244 and 277.
13. First-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Determination of Cosmological Parameters, D. N., Spergel, et al., Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 148, 175–94, 2003.
14. Seven-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Cosmological Interpretation, E., Komatsu, et al., Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 192, 18, 2011.
15. Fluctuations at the Threshold of Classical Cosmology, E. R., Harrison, Physical Review D, 1, 2726–30, 1970.
16. A Hypothesis, Unifying the Structure and the Entropy of the Universe, Ya. B., Zel'dovich. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1P–3P, 1972.
17. Chaotic Inflation, A. D., Linde, Physics Letters B, 129, 177–81, 1983.
18. Ibid., Seven-Year Wilkinson, Komatsu, et al., 2011.
19. A Theory of Electrons and Protons, P. A. M., Dirac, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, 126, 360–65, 1930.
20. The Concept of the Monopole. A Historical and Analytical Case-Study, Helge, Kragh, Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, 12, 141–72, 1981.
21. Quantised Singularities in the Electromagnetic Field, P. A. M., Dirac, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, 133, 60–72, 1931.
22. The Apparent Existence of Easily Deflectable Positives, Carl D., Anderson, Science, 76, 238–39, 1932.
23. The Positive Electron, Carl D., Anderson, Physical Review, 43, 491–94, 1933.
24. Antiproton-Nucleon Annihilation Process. II, Owen, Chamberlain, et al., Physical Review, 113, 1615–34, 1959.
25. Ibid., Quantized Singularities, Dirac, p. 68.
26. Ibid., Quantized Singularities, Dirac, p. 60.
27. Large Extra Dimensions: A New Arena for Particle Physics, N., Arkani-Hamed, S., Dimopoulos & G., Dvali, Physics Letters B, 429, 263–72, 1998.
28. An Alternative to Compactification, L., Randall & R., Sundrum, Physical Review Letters, 83, 4690–93, 1999.
29. Ibid., The Concept of the Monopole, Kragh, 1981.