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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Julie Spector (05/05/04)

I really enjoyed Monday's class, primarily because it was almost entirely discussion. Whenever we have a class like that, I feel I almost always come out of it a better listener, not to mention I feel like I learned something. Case in point: discussing the change in NASA's infrastructure made me realize how much I was misunderstanding the situation, particularly when Lillian spoke of the Columbia tragedy. Actually, it made me feel rather foolish; I was convinced of the stupidity of NASA's “response” to Bush, and then Lillian made me realize that they needed an excuse to reorganize, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Ah, seminars.

We talked about so much I don't know where to start! My thought's concerning reflections on Captain Young: Cindy and Hannah made great points; the issue of xenophobia versus the generations that experienced the World Wars versus the issue of the generations that followed is definitely interesting. I think about all the things my grandmother told me (she fled Nazi Germany) and how different her opinions are from mine! So I called her to talk about Mars colonization—she felt that the Mars venture should be an international one. She did not enjoy the concept of “The United States of Mars,” which made me laugh! But seriously, this really raises issues coincident to some of those in Robert A. Heinlen's Stranger in a Strange Land , which I'm pretty much obsessed with these days. Let's say that NASA gets all the money they need, everything goes without a hitch, we get to Mars, and not only that, we decide to colonize! Well, if the US does the colonization, does the US then “own” Mars? What happens when another country's space agency arrives at Mars? I'd like to think that there wouldn't be war on Mars, but somehow when it comes to wars, I don't have much faith in humanity. I'm surprised we didn't broach this topic, but then on the flip side of the coin, I find it highly improbable that anyone could achieve Martian colonization without international cooperation. The international law based lawyers are going to be so rich when the time for colonization occurs (notice I don't say if, but who knows?).

Say there is colonization of Mars, international colonization at that—do we claim Mars as ours (as in property of the human civilization)? How can we possibly claim that we “own” a planet?? For that matter, do we consider ourselves owners of the Earth? We haven't been here that long—only a few million years according to our best estimates—and the Earth is, according to our best estimates, around 4 billion years. I think heat owns the planet, personally, as it essentially controls the Earth. Or maybe several species of monera own the planet. If you can even consider owning a planet. It's a rather audacious and arrogant concept, if you ask me.

And now on to President Bush. I don't remember who said it, but the pro-Bush day. I agree with that, actually, and this is why I'm glad I'm debating on the side of Thesis 1 next week. The Mars Initiative: to rally the American spirit. I think that's not the thing Americans need right now. Well maybe they do, just not in this interstellar context. The world is so torn apart; this country (not to mention other ones) need leaders who want to get over this, move past the idiotic fights (idealistic, non realistic thinking, I know, but stranger things have happened…well, maybe they haven't….I guess we just have to wait and see). How amazing would an international cooperation be to reach Mars be? People working together, countries sharing resources, not killing each other over anything from oil to religion….idealistic, unrealistic, maybe even stupid, but maybe Mars could be the venture to accomplish such a feat. And now, while I feel hope that there is some goodness left in the world, I'm going to finish this write up before my mind wanders to disillusioning thoughts.
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