The collapse of a world-renowned radio telescope leaves an astronomical legacy

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Arecibo Observatory was born in the mid-20th century from a confluence of earthly and celestial forces: William E. Gordon, the scientist who devised the massive radio telescope, wanted to study the Earth's upper atmosphere. The federal defense agency that funded its construction aspired to dominate the technology race against the Soviet Union. And so, between 1960 and 1963, in an era brimming with the idea of space exploration and Cold War tensions, a radio telescope of power and size never before seen was built in Arecibo, a coastal town in northern Puerto Rico. Th...

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