James Kytta (02/11/04)
Monday's discussion section heightened the level of excitement I have for the rest of the semester by demonstrating to me just how beneficial having as diverse a group of individuals enrolled in this course as we have will be. The conversation that stemmed from Professor Putnam's discussion of his great-uncle Percival was one in which a large spectrum of viewpoints were brought into play and one in which everyone could contribute. I am glad to see that there will not be any of the silences that often meet discussion questions in my past experiences.
Particularly of great interest to me was the brushing we did on the surface of the possible religious response to finding life definitively elsewhere in the universe. Having attended a Catholic high school (though not of the Catholic faith myself), I have always found theological discussions particularly valuable. I am anxious to speak in further detail on this subject after time has been given to gather more material. It was not surprising to me, however, that nearly everyone had a strong opinion on where religion stood in relation to science. It is not everyday that one would consider these matters, but they are of much import.The fascination the human race has had with Mars is an issue that I feel reflects a lot on our own nature. With my background in psychology and cognitive sciences, I plan to look further into this possibly for a final paper topic. It's easy to think people go beyond our own atmosphere for one or two reasons. As the discussion showed, however, there are a multitude of possible motivations that people (and governments/special interest groups) have for wanting to push the boundaries of exploration. We made broad references to things such as the space race and the hope of better understanding out own origins by better understanding the origins of another planet, both topics that I feel further thought is required on, and will most definitely be forthcoming in future classes.