China built the world’s largest telescope, but has no one to run it

https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/GettyImages-626582398-800x431.jpg

During the second season of The Big Bang Theory, the aspiring actress Penny borrows money from Sheldon. Without a second thought, the theoretical physicist grabs a peanut brittle can in which he stores his extra money, and urges Penny to borrow as much as she wants. "This is money I'm not using," Sheldon explains.

Nick Suntzeff, an astronomer at Texas A&M University, recalled this episode when asked why no astronomers had yet taken a lucrative position to run the world's largest radio telescope, in China. The job pays about $1.2 million annually. "Now, that is an exaggeration," Suntzeff said of the TV show. "But I know many astronomers who would do such a thing. They want to be paid well, yes, but the money does not buy you telescope time, or access to supercomputers, or fund postdocs and graduate students."