Alana Firl (02/11/04)
This week the seminar began with an open-ended interview with Professor Michael Putnam about Percival Lowell. I really enjoyed listening to his stories about his great-uncle, because it really brought Lowell to life and make all the readings on him more meaningful. For example, I knew that Lowell was not an astronomer, but listening to Putnam really hit it home to me how incredible it was that Lowell came to be so involved in Mars (inaccurate as his conclusions may have been). It was an eye-opener into the politics of science as well. Like I said, I really enjoyed listening to Putnam.
The bulk of the class was taken up by discussions. I regret asking the question about religion because I am not too interested in religion itself; I was mostly wondering if there would be great repercussions for religion should life on Mars or anywhere else be discovered. Even so, it was nice to hear what other people had to say; it was very interesting but not necessarily a topic that I felt to be extremely relevant to the actual subject of Mars.
As such, I would have preferred to spend more time on the slide show of the updated Mars pictures. It was neat seeing how they had to dust off the rock before drilling—it's things like that which you wouldn't really think of, and yet they are necessary for an accurate assessment of what Mars is like. I guess that's what I liked most about Monday's seminar—the specifics, knowing beyond the “general idea,” the sense of actually being a part of the Mars exploration and not a casual observer.
I would have liked to focus more on the pictures of Mars and the exploration updates. Feeling directly involved in something as major as the physical exploration of Mars, the now , is quite rare, and I would like to bask in the opportunity for as long as possible. I like the discussions, but the immediacy of the current Mars exploration puts it a cut above discussions.