2 Bulgarian Ministries Move to Rescue Struggling Observatory
Bulgaria's financially struggling Rozhen observatory is to carry out tasks for the country's Agriculture Ministry and for the Ministry of Environment, it was announced on Wednesday.
In exchange, the observatory will receive a modest cash injection that would help it survive by the end of the year.
On Tuesday, Rozhen astronomers met with the country's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in a bid to convince him that the observatory should not be closed.
Astronomy has multiple applications and some of them would be beneficial for the ministries in question, Bulgarian Astronomy Institute director Tanyu Bonev has told reporters. However, he has noted that the tasks would distract the astronomers from their scientific research.
"We may miss an asteroid that would hit the earth in 10 years...We may also miss an exploding star," Bonev said.
"You should watch more carefully," Borisov replied, as cited by the Focus news agency.
"Not a single star should be missed. Even though it may explode in ten years, the nuclear synthesis should be under control," he said in a baffling remark.
Earlier in November, the observatory - the largest in South-Eastern Europe - warned it will be forced to cease operations if it does not receive additional funds.
Since coming to power in 2009, Bulgaria's center right GERB cabinet has made drastic cuts in budgets for research and education, with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences being hit with as much as 40% of its annual funds.
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This is the way to handle all BAS institutes: let them find sponsors in society that are willing to pay part of their expenses (because they are useful to the sponsor, for instance, or enough persons are willing to spend money on it), and the government should also sponsor them. If they can't find any sponsors, the institute apparently doesn't have a function in society, and it should be closed.
When put to the choice of missing an exploding star, and missing a relative because there was no ambulance available to take him/her to the hospital, only a mad scientist would chose the star.