In recent years South Africa's Karoo has come to acquire a definite cachet (see for example Deal 2007, Marais and Du Toit 2009, Naude-Moseley and Moseley 2008, Rogers 2008).
While Europe's remote places become increasingly congested (Ousby 2002), the apparent emptiness of the Karoo semi-desert is becoming a significant attraction.
Whenever I think of the Karoo and its body, mind and soul healing properties of silence, solitude and space (the three 'S's') then I am reminded of the hit song from Porgy and Bess, 'I got plenty of nothing and nothing is plenty for me'.
Similarly, while the Karoo's expansiveness and aridity are natural facts, its demographic profile is rather less so.
The element of interiority, stimulated by the apprehension of vastness, is important in understanding the new-found appeal of the Karoo. As Du Toit (2008) so aptly expresses it, 'All that space allows you space'.
Consonant with Myles's sentiments expressed earlier, profound questions of this nature are readily suggested by the spatial depths of a region such as South Africa's arid Karoo. What is the immanence, the hidden 'palimpsest' (Hauser 2008:88, Schama 1995:16), that awaits decoding within this ostensible 'nothingness'?
The Karoo has increasingly come to serve as a tabula rasa onto which authors, artists and journalists inscribe the products of their creative imaginations.
The Karoo town of Sutherland, situated at an altitude of 1,759m, was selected as the site for the new observatory.
In the meantime, until the bid has been adjudicated, the MeerKAT (Karoo Array Telescope) will function as a precursor phase of SKA.
A site 95km north-west of the Karoo town of Carnarvon has been selected for MeerKAT.
The Karoo is becoming an increasingly important 'space science destination'.
To enable South Africa to hold its own in the knowledge economy, the Karoo's SALT and SKA programmes present a golden opportunity to revive scientific literacy.