Most West Virginia doesn’t think much about our state’s role in helping our nation reach for the stars.
We are the home state of one of the “Hidden numbers”, the late Katherine Johnson, whose mind was so sharp that some of the early astronauts would not trust computer calculations until they had confirmed them; the late Chuck Yeager, who after breaking the sound barrier was part of a test pilot training program for NASA; and Jon McBride an astronaut who reached the rank of captain.
But hidden in a remote pocket of Pocahontas County, in the heart of the United States’ National Radio Zone, is the Green Bank Telescope and Observatory, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. Among his most recent discoveries is a previously unknown structure that may extend to the most distant parts of the Milky Way.
We are not talking about a new planet or moon, but a structure made of molecular gas, which would not have been detected without an instrument of the sensitivity of the Green Bank Telescope.
“The existence of this massive structure has implications for theories of star formation, as well as the structure, composition and total mass of the interstellar medium,” reported the GBT.
In other words, that – and many other discoveries made right here in our mountains – are a big deal.
We don’t talk enough about the proof that West Virginia has the ” good things “ when it comes to location and the workforce that will propel us into the economy of the future. While too many of our brightest and most capable young people feel compelled to leave the state to find jobs that match their dreams and skills, they have been brought up and educated here – many of them in our own colleges and universities as well. We have the land. Just ask the people who are considering building the Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center in Grant and Tucker counties.
Perhaps development bureaucrats should aim for the stars by showcasing what the Mountain State has already contributed to the fields of science and technology, as they seek to attract new employers who might know the same success.