Currently the two main government agencies -- NASA and the NSF -- which support astronomical research are planning several major new facilities. These include a 30-meter ground-based optical/infrared telescope and a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The combined national investment in these over their lifetimes (and ours) will be many billions of dollars. My talk examines the recent history of how astronomers planned and designed new national facilities that were NOT built. In doing this, I consider the long-term effects of these "failures" as well as the implications for building future "Big Machines".
The author's book on this subject is called
Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology.
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