TIP OF THE DAY

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
A Soulful Discovery in Chile

Last week's tips were simple because I was travelling to Chile. This week, I'm writing simple tips because I'm recovering from travelling to Chile.

My night job is Kalimba Magic, but my day job for the last 18 years has been Radio Astronomer. We are building the world's most powerful millimeter wavelength radio telescope on one of the world's best high and dry sites, Chajnantor, near San Pedro, Chile. This is a photo taken by Simon Radford, from Cerro Chajnantor, at about 18,500 ft, looking down at the site where we are building an array of 66 high frequency radio antennas to study the cosmos. The plain at the foot of the mountain is at 16,500 ft, and it was my job to drive around up there to site locations for 35 of the antennas.

chajnantorview

The project is called ALMA, which means "soul" in Spanish, and is an acronym for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (don't ask me about large millimeters, though, as I didn't pick the name). But the really amazing thing that happened on this trip was a find in a gift shop in the Santiago airport, hidden between the CDs of Andean music:

Piny's ALMA Minimal CD

Piny Levalle is an Argentinian who recorded a CD of kalimba music in Chile in 1999 called, ALMA Minimal. He plays a kalimba similar to the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba, but typically tuned to E major instead of G.

I believe I was meant to find this CD!

Thank you, Piny.