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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Frank Crespo (05/05/04)

Today's discussion started off on the wrong foot for me. Many students in the class were arguing that John Young's ideas were a bit far-fetched and even extremist. I thought the converse was true. In fact, I thought his ideas were quite plausible. Maybe it's me, but I think his ideas about colonizing other planetary bodies were reasonable. With current problems like global warming and terrorism plaguing our planet, we might need to find a safe haven on another world. I do not think we should shun Young for simply doing his job and supporting space exploration. However, I do agree with Cindy in that he should have never made the analogy between immigration and population growth.

In terms of Young's personality traits, they can clearly be described by Abigail Stewart's impact as a function of age theory. Because Young was involved in WWII, he is more perceptive to external threats. His cognitive system now has the fundamental value of seeking safety in the midst of threats. In my opinion, this is the reason why he is so adamant about colonizing Mars.

I enjoyed today's comparison between the Kennedy and Bush space initiative. Ultimately, I think that the current initiative have less impetus than Kennedy's. In the midst of a cold war, it seemed that America needed this extra push in order to lift up national spirits. However, I do not believe that America is in such a state of despondency today. In fact, I think the antithesis is true. America is leading the war against terror and taking demand over Iraq--I don't think this shows any signs of American defeat. Moreover, I think that the current initiative is more of an effort to win some liberal-conservative votes. Our guest, Mike disagreed with me on this point. He stated that if space initiatives are such good attractors of votes, then why didn't Clinton propose one during his presidency. This was a good point, and it made me rethink my initial stance. Perhaps Bush does have some substance in his skull and truly wants to explore the universe. As much as I want to believe this though, I'm sure Bush knows this initiative will not be passed and for that reason he is thriving on it temporal appeal.

I also see the president's initiative as his continual attempt to bring closure to his father's unfinished business. Bush has a track record of following in his fathers footsteps. For instance, he continued a battle against Iraq during this term and now he is proposing a plan similar to his fathers 1989 initiative. If Bush wants to leave a mark, he should start thinking for himself. In addition, I see a metaphor between the Iraq invasion and this space initiative: both involve some type of American conquest, be it planetary or ideological. This concept of American superiority should be discarded. As I mentioned in class, in an effort to understand the universe all nations should collaborate as one.

Towards the end of our discussion we began to list some other initiatives Bush had proposed during his term. The pattern was evident: each of his major initiatives (e.g., faith based initiative and no child left behind) seemed to have an initial appeal along with long term instability. If this is any sign of the space initiative, things are not looking good for planetary enthusiasts. In order to break this pattern, someone more passionate about the initiative should back it up. I'm not sure if Kerry will be able to fit this role, so I would recommend a NASA official or possibly a national space hero; this would definitely attract the emotional appeal of the public.

One final thing I would like to touch upon is the idea mentioned at the end of class that there is not enough money for science. I think this is absurd and even greedy. I come from a culture where people make the best of what they have. With current funding and the right staff, I think any scientific feat can be accomplished. Scientists should not be asking for more money because this negatively influences their true motives for exploration. Historically scientists have made discoveries in the midst of a lack of financial support. Just look at James Watson and his everlasting struggle to find a grant to support his cause. This issue did not stop him and it shouldn't stop NASA.


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