Current Events

Stop Addressing Science and Culture as if They Are Separate Concepts

By Keahi Warfield, President of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc. (PUEO) and Richard Ha, PUEO Board Member (orginally published in Star-Advertiser under title “Mauna Kea’s Future” June 28, 2017 with additions from Dan Ahuna) We were all so moved to watch the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe Hōkūle‘a sail home from its amazing, three-year, educational Mālama Honua trip around the world. But that’s not the end, not of their journeys nor of other explorations and discoveries. There is so much more to learn, including from atop Maunakea, above the cloud line, where everything down below – Hilo, Kona, Waimea – falls away and you can peer into the universe. The telescopes are of great value. Through them, we look back in time just as the Kumulipo (Hawaiian creation chant) takes us back to darkness. Instead of the telescopes being Maunakea’s focal point, though, let’s create a cultural center there above the clouds – a center truly devoted to Hawaiians and our culture, one with Hawaiian architecture, values and tradition built into the design by cultural practitioners. It will honor the vastness of the Hawaiian culture in a way we aren’t currently doing. Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim calls this idea of a “World Park” upon Maunakea a “living museum of the people of the First Nation of Hawai‘i” and “an opportunity for Hawai‘i to be the center of discovery of mankind and of the universe.” Governor David Ige also supports this idea. The number of visitors to Maunakea keeps increasing each year, and by not providing a place that truly respects and shares our indigenous knowledge to educate, we are... read more

Making Progress at Palekai

Last Saturday we had another work day down at Palekai.  The Hokualaka‘i’s mast got a good sanding and a coat of sealer.  The paddling canoes got some needed attention and some new storage racks were setup in the container. It was also a good chance to see the Hikianalia, the sister ship to the Hokulea.  They were moored in Palekai to pick up previsions and ready the crew for a 2600 mile journey to Tahiti to take some repair supplies to Hokulea before they make their last leg back home completing their world circumnavigation in Hawaii.  They were happy to give short tours of the canoe as they made preparations to depart on the 26th.  You can follow their journey here:  http://www.hokulea.com/vessels/hikianalia/ Having the Hikianalia in the bay inspired all of us to keep working on the Hokualaka‘i’ and get her back in the water this year!    ... read more

Keahi Warfield’s Testimony in the TMT Contested Case Hearing

On February 15th, 2017, Keahi took the stand to explain the story of PUEO, his struggle to educate himself and his mission to help kids find a positive and successful future for themselves.  He also explains how Hawaiians will benefit in the short term and long term by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.  His powerful story explaining his reasons for supporting the telescope is a message that everyone should hear before they rush to judge the TMT project. Video is courtesy of Na Leo TV.... read more

“Sea to Sky Event” – Rebuilding Hōkūalaka’i – Sept. 24

A free youth event called “Sea to Sky” will be held this weekend.  This event is designed to bring different aspects of our island together with the common purpose of rebuilding the voyaging canoe, Hōkūalaka’i.  The Hōkūalaka’i will be used for teaching purposes on Hawaiʻi Island and beyond. Hōkūalakaʻi’s home is in the same location (Palekai) that the historic Hōkūleʻa departed from on its world wide voyage. This will be the first of many “Sea to Sky” events at Palekai in Hilo.  It will be an all day event with something for everyone to enjoy.  We have invited many members of the scientific field to have fun educational learning stations available for kids and all participants will be hosted with great food and activities. The focus of the monthly events are structured to: Unite community in helping to restore the voyaging canoe, Hōkūalaka’i. Promote indigenous knowledge in science programs Increase cultural relevance Create opportunities to pursue careers in science and culture education fields The schedule for the September 24th will be: 8:00-8:30am Informal meet, setup and discuss days activities and work planned for the canoe. 8:45-9:30am ‘awa ceremony and welcome 9:30-11:30am Work on Hōkūalakaʻi, Visit Learning Stations, and Site Beautification Project 11:30-12:30pm Lunch 1:00-4:30 Paddling, Sailing, Swimming (Ocean Activities) 4:30-5:00 Closing talk and cleanup We will have “Learning Stations” and a variety of organizations joining us each week. Come down to Palekai and join in the community effort to restore Hōkūalakaʻi and help our youth learn about the science and culture that is happening on the Big Island. If you would like to setup a booth to help educate... read more

News From The Mountain

The Science Behind Hawaii’s ‘Smiley Face’ Volcano

[source] A “smiling” volcano has gone viral. Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been actively erupting since 1983, and it’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). But the volcano received more attention recently when the volcano’s lava formed what looks like a smiley face. The smiley face appeared in a lava lake crater on the west flank of Pu’u ‘O’o, on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone, according to Janet Babb, a geologist with the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. [Explosive Images: Hawaii’s Kilauea Erupts for 30 Years] Pu’u ‘O’o also recently made headlines when the lava flow reached the ocean for the first time in three years. While it may seem like Kilauea was smiling for the cameras, the “face” has a more scientific explanation: The bright spots and incandescent line that created the face shape were produced by normal volcanic activity. As a lava lake circulates, lava upwelling and downwelling will occur on opposite sides of the lake, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This often results in a spattering of molten lava, which creates bright spots on the dark-colored, semi-solid lake surface. Circulation can also cause sections of the surface to pull apart, revealing the lava beneath and creating lines. By chance, these processes occurred in a pattern that created the smiling image, Babb said. “The Pu’u ‘O’o lava lake just happened to produce two spattering sources (bright dots) that have been interpreted as ‘eyes’ and an incandescent line that has been interpreted as a ‘mouth’ — with the two lake surface features located relative to each other to produce the... read more

From atop Mauna Kea, UH scientists are finding exoplanets, boosting the chance of discovering alien life

[source] University of Hawaii astronomers were part of a globe-spanning team that recently announced the discovery of more than 100 new planets orbiting stars beyond our own solar system. These new exoplanets, confirmed in part through observations made from Hawaii-based telescopes, reveal an unprecedented range of diversity in the places and ways in which planets can form. And the study’s findings further raise the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial life. “One of my favorite quotes comes to mind, from Arthur C. Clarke,” said Evan Sinukoff, a co-author of the study and a graduate student at the UH Manoa Institute for Astronomy. “‘Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the universe or we are not — both are equally terrifying.’” This artist’s concept shows a crop of more than 100 planets, discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Those planets include four in Earth’s size range orbiting a single dwarf star. NASA/JPL “We all know how easily fear can motivate people,” he laughed, then added, “What keeps me going into work every day is my desire for exploration and the notion that I’m contributing a chapter to a journey thousands of years in the making … and coffee.” The Flea And The Street Lamp To find these new planets, an international group of astronomers collaborated on a specific set of observations made with NASA’s orbiting Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009. Sinukoff said they started by taking measurements of more than 10,000 stars, in five different patches of the sky, each of which they monitored for three months. They looked for specific changes in a star’s brightness, potentially caused by an... read more

NASA Telescope on Maunakea finds Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Likely a Massive Heat Source

[source] New NASA-funded research suggests that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot may be the mysterious heat source behind Jupiter’s surprisingly high upper atmospheric temperatures. Here on Earth, sunlight heats the atmosphere at altitudes well above the surface—for example, at 250 miles above our planet where the International Space Station orbits. Scientists have been stumped as to why temperatures in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are comparable to those found at Earth, yet Jupiter is more than five times the distance from the sun. They wanted to know: if the sun isn’t the heat source, then what is? Researchers from Boston University’s Center for Space Physics set out to solve the mystery by mapping temperatures well above Jupiter’s cloud tops using observations from Earth. They analyzed data from the SpeX spectrometer at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, a 3-meter infrared telescope operated for NASA by the University of Hawaii. By observing non-visible infrared light hundreds of miles above the gas giant, scientists found temperatures to be much higher in certain latitudes and longitudes in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, where the spot is located. “We could see almost immediately that our maximum temperatures at high altitudes were above the Great Red Spot far below—a weird coincidence or a major clue?” said Boston University’s James O’Donoghue, lead author of the study. The study, in the July 27 issue of the journal Nature, concludes that the storm in the Great Red Spot produces two kinds of turbulent energy waves that collide and heat the upper atmosphere. Gravity waves are much like how a guitar string moves when plucked, while acoustic waves are compressions... read more

Subaru Telescope Maunakea find new, ancient source of gravitational lensing with Student Help

[source NAOJ] Light from a distant galaxy can be strongly bent by the gravitational influence of a foreground galaxy. That effect is called strong gravitational lensing. Normally a single galaxy is lensed at a time. The same foreground galaxy can – in theory – simultaneously lens multiple background galaxies. Although extremely rare, such a lens system offers a unique opportunity to probe the fundamental physics of galaxies and add to our understanding of cosmology. One such lens system has recently been discovered and the discovery was made not in an astronomer’s office, but in a classroom. It has been dubbed the Eye of Horus (Fig. 1), and this ancient eye in the sky will help us understand the history of the universe.   Figure 1: Eye of Horus in pseudo color. Enlarged image to the right (field of view of 23 arcseconds x 19 arcseconds) show two arcs/rings with different colors. The inner arc has a reddish hue, while the outer arc has a blue tint. These arcs are lensed images of the two background galaxies. There are blobs in and around the arcs/rings, which are also the lensed images of those background galaxies. The yellow-ish object at the center is a massive galaxy at z = 0.79 (distance 7 billion light years), which bends the light from the two background galaxies. The wide field image in the background is here. Enlarged image of the Eye of Horus is here and the image with labels is here. (Credit: NAOJ)   Classroom Research Pays Off Subaru Telescope organizes a school for undergraduate students each year. One such session was held... read more

Gemini Observatory Instrumental in Exoplanet Harvest

[source] Gemini Observatory plays a key role in the latest harvest of over 100 confirmed exoplanets from NASA’s K2 mission, the repurposed Kepler spacecraft. Three instruments on the Gemini North telescope delivered precise images verifying many of the candidate stars as planetary system hosts. Researchers note that these systems could contain a considerable number of rocky, potentially earthlike exoplanets. The Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea helped verify many of the over 100 new worlds announced in the initial crop of discoveries from the NASA K2 mission, according to Ian Crossfield of the University of Arizona. Crossfield led the international team of scientists who announced the findings, which are published online in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. A preprint of the paper is available here. “Gemini North was instrumental because it delivered extremely high-resolution images of over 70 of the almost 200 potential planetary systems that K2 uncovered,” says Crossfield. ”In total we used three instruments, or cameras, on Gemini to complete our studies – so you could say that Gemini was instrumental in that way too!” Once K2’s data are analyzed to identify potential exoplanet candidates, many of the world’s most powerful telescopes, like Gemini, are set into motion. This is so astronomers can rule out other explanations that can produce the signature of a planet orbiting a star. “This is where the discovery happens,” says astronomer Christopher Davis of the US National Science Foundation, which funds over 70% of Gemini. “Once other possibilities are eliminated, like nearby background stars, the team can say with extreme certainty that we have a new exoplanet system.” One of the instruments... read more