Simons Foundation Sponsors "The Eternal Sky," A Short Film about Building the Simons Observatory
High in the mountains of Chile, the hardscrabble landscape of the Atacama Desert extends endlessly across the horizon. There is no grass, no water, and not much oxygen. It’s the perfect place to figure out how the universe began.
That is the scene set by “The Eternal Sky.” Filmmaker Debra Kellner documents the development and construction of the new Simons Observatory, located next to several other research facilities in the area. In fact, two previously independent undertakings, the POLARBEAR (Polarization of Background Radiation) project and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope project, have come together under the Simons Observatory banner. In this venture, scientists and engineers are designing and building new telescopes with new receivers, new detectors and new software. The equipment will detect even the weakest signals of cosmic inflation, which researchers theorize occurred right after the Big Bang and seeded the formation of galaxies and other structures seen in the universe today.
Sponsored by the Simons Foundation, “The Eternal Sky” is the first of several short films to highlight the science and the people behind the project. Placing critical importance on understandability for viewers not familiar with cosmology, Kellner strikes a balance between art and science. “Not being a science person myself, I thought: If I can explain this with as much poetry and beauty as it deserves, then we can really reach a lot of people,” she says...