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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James Kytta (04/08/04)

Our abstract discussions on what exactly science and exploration are gave me a lot to think about walking away from Monday's discussion. Oftentimes words become difficult to assign specific definitions to, and a lack of clarity all too often leads to conflict. I believe this to be something unfortunate, but unavoidable nonetheless.

Exploration has recently become something I have thought of as more motivated by personal/national pride than anything else. I was glad to have other ideas presented to counter this fatalistic and somewhat depressing idea. It is difficult to argue that curiosity is not a part of our biological nature, as it is universal to all living creatures, though manifested differently. This explanation is most preferable to me. I can also understand, however, how competition may be a main driving factor. This too is understandable in terms of our biology. The more we win and prove our superiority, the more power we amass. I also like the idea that we explore because of the “promise of opportunity.” People are so often discontent in their own station in life (after all, the grass is always greener), so it is easy to see how one would hold out hope and believe that there is something better out there that should be sought after. Fear is also a common motivating factor. The interesting paradigm that was applied here (fear of knowing vs. fear of not knowing) I find to be most appropriate. I less agree with the idea that humans have the foresight to see that our planet's resources are finite, and we are searching for future resources by partaking in exploration.

Another word we discussed that is difficult to define is science. In my own experience on campus so many people are eager to argue that fields such as the cognitive sciences are not real sciences at all. I believe, however, that the definition give in class is inclusive of these and even seemingly further removed fields. Science is, in my shared opinion, the exploration of the unknown. Regardless of place, time, means or goals, if one is learning something unknown to the world, one is partaking in scientific exploration.

In summation, the manner in which one defines any of a multitude of abstract terms will depend on oneself entirely. The manner in which one would go about doing something, or the source from which one will gather motivation is the definition most likely to be applied to words such as exploration. I hope, however, that it is not always that one's thirst for glory is the sole motivation for bringing new knowledge to the human race.
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