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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Cindy Beavon (03/24/04)

I very much appreciated Dave coming in- it was nice to see the friendly repore between Professor Head and him, and I could feel the enthusiasm between the both of them for the intersections of the respective fields. I do like the casual power point presentation, during which any of us could interject to ask questions, but I do think that two hours of watching a power point presentation is a little long without a break or change of pace for a more general discussion.

It was great how he included a history of South Pole exploration and included pictures of Shackelton's ship The Endurance , my uncle bought me a novel about the disaster that surrounded that mission a few years ago and I was so impressed by the courage of early explorers, who set out to places that no one literally knew anything about. Also, what he characterized as the “home away from home” approach of early explorers versus the more realist approach today was fascinating in regards to discovering how our human sensibilities have evolved with scientific research.

Also, his stories about the process of selecting team members were great. The “window test” seemed at first a bit contradictory to me. Dave was just saying how he had to run the expedition very militantly- everyone follows orders and doesn't question them, just does what he says. But if he's complaining about it being hot, and wants people good at following orders, wouldn't it follow that he wouldn't want anyone to touch the window unless he told him/her to? And relationship resolution is something I never considered being an issue, and the story about the newlywed was funny. It's surprising how someone who wants to get away from the majority of people typically makes “the worst” team member.

I also meant to ask exactly what a day-to-day schedule was like- how much time is spent collecting data versus analyzing data, or eating or sleeping? Would he have been able to explain the specific kind of research he does without confusing most of us? It must have been nice to have the opportunity to stay up for long periods of time with the perpetual sunlight, if the job demanded it. I would have also been interested in knowing exactly how he developed interest in working indirectly with Mars.

I understand what he was talking about, regarding the isolation when he said that you don't miss the ‘civilized' world unless you have tiny reminders all the time. This summer I went on many extended climbs and hikes in the Cascade mountain range, and if I started thinking about what my friends at home might be doing that afternoon or what television shows are on that evening, I'd start getting really frustrated and want to hurry up, make the summit, and get down. But if you start concentrating on little, beautiful things, you start forgetting a more complicated life and appreciate your opportunity to be so surrounded by nature.
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