Neutrons prove ‘Bond villain’ did not cause Arecibo telescope collapse

The recent collapse of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has been attributed to failures in the zinc-filled sockets that held the cable wires in place. Neutron imaging revealed that the zinc material experienced significant flow under stress, causing the wires to slip and ultimately leading to the collapse. While the report by forensic engineers concluded that natural forces had a negligible effect, the earthquakes and hurricanes that Puerto Rico experienced over the years could have contributed to the telescope’s instability. The use of high-penetration neutron imaging was crucial in analyzing the samples. This incident highlights the importance of studying complex engineering materials in order to prevent such failures in the future.

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