Andrew Baum (02/18/04)
We began our discussion in class exploring the progression of spaceship technology. I think it is interesting the way that we have had such an improvement in our technology in such a short amount of time. As we were discussing this yesterday, I wondered what happens when the space shuttle runs out of fuel, and is finished with its particular mission. I have never heard of a spacecraft being recovered and taken back to earth….except for ones with astronauts in them. Are there just several of these orbiters, or shuttles, simply floating around in space somewhere? If this is the case, I think that it would be so much more beneficial for use to try and recover our spacecrafts and perhaps reuse the parts for future explorations. While on this topic, Professor Head mentioned some of the amazing physical features on the surface of Mars. I was really shocked to hear of the volcano and valley that were beyond huge. It is hard for me to even imagine something of that size. Since I do not see myself ever going to Mars, I hope that I can someday see pictures and videos of these incredible landmarks.
We next spoke about tabloids and to what degree common people as ourselves believe the news and scientific discoveries that are happening. I have always enjoyed reading tabloids while in line at the grocery store and seeing some of the peculiar things that they are reporting. I think it is interesting how some people are in denial so much to either believe the tabloids, or reject new scientific findings. How do people not belive we landed on the moon? I think it is neglectful and rather naïve. Along the lines of tabloids and false “advertising” the sheet music was an interesting perspective that someone took and I would bet was a rare view taken. The cover depicted two human-like figures sending a message to earth from Mars. It was very peaceful and rather happy. Whenever I imagine how people a few decades ago thought about life on another planet, I think of the movies and texts about terror and attack, not peaceful relations. Being involved in music, I would have really like to look at the actual music and perhaps play it to hear how it sounded. Maybe we can arrange for myself, or someone else to play the music and record it for the class to hear.
Most of the class, we focused on religion, what role it plays in the mars explorations, and how religion may be affected by scientific findings. I found the CNN article about how the Koran stated that Ala was the god of world s . However, I don't believe that when it was written, people were thinking that life existed on other planets. If we do find the existence of life on other planets, I think that religions will either reject the idea completely, or more probable, find something written in their respective texts to make it “fit” into their religion, just like the CNN article. People will search for a way to make new scientific discoveries “fit” into their religion so that they can better explain and understand what is happening…even if they are not correct. But really, who is correct and who is not? If someone creates an excuse or reason for why something like life elsewhere happens and they are at ease believing it, why should anyone argue with them? I think that most religions are always changing and adopting new ideas and beliefs to be “up to date” with what is happening in the rest of the world, so why should this discovery any different?
Along the lines of how our society will be affected by life elsewhere, I think that we will immediately be threatened. Our world has this ego, or mentality that we are indeed the best creatures and the most special, and nothing can stop us. As far as our “special” qualities go, I think many other species are unique and sometimes are more efficient than humans, but I do agree that we are the most developed species. However, being more developed than another species is not the same as being better than another species. Think about how society treats certain animals that we feel threatened by. The snake is an “evil” animal in most places because it has the potential to hurt us, and therefore we feel threatened by it. I think that is 1) why images of aliens were so threatening and fierce, and 2) how society may respond initially if life is discovered elsewhere.Overall, my ideas were made stronger by listening to others in the class who shared my opinions and also who disagreed with them. It was a very enjoyable class for me and I really enjoyed hearing from our Champlain, and her views on some of the issues discussed above. I was expecting her to give a more religion based answer to some of our questions, but was pleasantly surprised to hear her give her own personal beliefs, even if they weren't exactly what “religion” believed. I look forward to our next speaker and hope to have just as interesting a discussion with him. See everyone in two weeks.