Every 10 years, about two dozen of this country's top astronomers and astrophysicists get together under the auspices of the National Research Council and make a wish list. The list has on it the new telescopes these astronomers would most like to see built. At the last gathering, they said, in essence, "We most want the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope."
Here's why. A synoptic survey is a comprehensive map of every square inch of the night sky. The Large Synoptic Survey — LSST — will do that multiple times.
Scientists can spend years working on problems that at first may seem esoteric and rather pointless. For example, there's a scientist in Arizona who's trying to find a way to measure the age of wild mosquitoes.
As weird as that sounds, the work is important for what it will tell scientists about the natural history of mosquitoes. It also could have major implications for human health.
One week after pausing with about 40 feet to go, Russian scientists today announced that they have successfully drilled through two miles of ice to reach Lake Vostok — a body of water the size of New Jersey that hasn't been touched for millions of years.