The Very Large Array Is Currently Shut Down, But Enjoy This Documentary Anyway

'Beyond the Visible: The Story of the Very Large Array.'

Oct 5 2013, 1:00pm

You know the Very Large Array even if you’ve never heard the name. It’s a guest star in Contact, commands Skynet in Terminator Salvation, and appears in the third Transformers movie, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, and so on. In the real world, the VLA is one part of the United States’ National Radio Astronomy Observatory (watch our doc here), tasked with spying on the hidden universe, e.g. the part that’s observable only at radio frequencies (rather than optical, for example).

The documentary above, produced by the NRAO and narrated by Jodie Foster, comes at an interesting time. The NRAO is currently shut down along with much of the rest of the U.S. federal government, including pretty much anything else to do with science that doesn't involve keeping lab animals alive. Pulsars, black holes, gamma ray bursts, and the rest of the dark cosmos will just have to wait.