Geo016 - Exploration of Mars

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Geo016 / Exploration of Mars / (M) 3:00-5:20 / Lincoln Field 105 / Prof. James Head

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Alana Firl (02/04/04)

My name is Alana Firl and I come from the San Diego area. It's quite nice there but there's something to be said for the fact that around here, ice crystals literally come out of the sky, which I think is
utterly amazing. I come from a sizeable high school (3,500 students) so while I am used to regarding schools as being large cattle farms disguised as institutes of learning, a lot of the classes here at
Brown are smaller than what I'm used to, so I feel less like a herd animal, which is a pleasant change. I really like science and math because I feel that the material is much less refined; since it is at
least in theory based on observation and not opinion, it seems to breach the barriers that you often find when language and expression play a more important role. I am considering a neuroscience or
physics concentration, but that fully depends on how I feel when the time actually comes to make a decision. In the future I definitely want to work in reasearch; it gives me an enormous sense of
well-being, thinking that I'll be learning/discovering things that no one has ever done before.

I think my interest in physics stems from my fascination with astronomy. In 2nd grade I had this wonderful science teacher who made it all seem so magical, and that never really wore off over the
years. I am fascinated by mystery and the unknown. I am also very interested in the fact that Mars does have water (albeit frozen). At this first class we had of GE16, I really liked the emphasis on
asking "why." I mean, everyone knows that things fall down, but I always wonder what the world would be like if Isaac Newton never asked WHY they fall down. For me, things don't carry much meaning unless I know why, or at the very least how, they happen.

Looking over the course outline, I am looking forward to examining the question of life on Mars (particularly HOW they plan to determine if life exists/existed there), how to manipulate and study data, living and working on Mars and Earth: the Antarctic Dry Valleys, and discussions with James Garvin. I don't know if I missed this on the course outline, but I'd like to know more about the geology of Mars and the kinds of elements present on it. I want to know exactly what Mars is comprised of, and how it differs from Earth. I also wouldn't mind knowing why these differences account for the way that Earth has life and Mars appears to be dead. I think that in comparing the two, you can learn a lot about the probability of the existence of life elsewhere.

I'm really looking forward to taking this course and learning anything. I tend to keep an open mind going into classes, because I've found that some of the most interesting things weren't initially
part of my expectations.


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