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Join the discussion: Life is different in the land without cell service

The Green Bank Telescope at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia is wider than two football fields and taller than the Statue of Liberty.ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images/AFP via Getty Images

GREEN BANK, W.Va. — Three miles from the Thompson family home stands a radio telescope that’s wider than two football fields and taller than the Statue of Liberty. The great metal dish — nearly 17 million pounds of steel, wiring, and ingenuity — is tuned to the heavens, tracking pulsars and collecting radio waves from the far reaches of the cosmos.

It’s a one-of-its-kind wonder of science, the crown jewel of a futuristic federal observatory complex. But to Josh Thompson, it’s just something he can see from his backyard, beyond the lettuce patches and the cornfields. That is, when he cares to look.

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Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.