Michael Frederickson (02/11/04)
I thought our class discussion went very well on Monday. Overall I feel that the class consensus that we attempt to balance the time spent discussing topics and following the class schedule was appropriate, as I think our levels of interest and knowledge on specific subjects will help dictate how we distribute our time. Clearly the diversity of backgrounds we've been talking about paid off, as the many eclectic opinions added to our analysis of the discussion points.
I particularly enjoyed our discussion on the linear or episodic changes in perspective on Mars. The wording of this discussion point itself created quite a bit of interesting conversation. It states: “how has our perspective on the nature of Mars…changed…” Initially, I didn't think twice about the word “our,” but after listening to the class discussion was interested to hear opinions on the difference between the “public” and the “scientific community.” I hadn't necessarily considered how the public's perception changes, as encyclopedic readings tend to focus on the scientific community. I find it also pertinent to note the point that was brought up, that perhaps the scientific community and the public are not as dissimilar as one would think. Our time spent considering the non-scientific aspects of perspective change, such as the “scientific jealousy” we spoke so much of, were of particular interest. We so often view history, and perhaps even more so scientific history, in such a sterile way that it may be convenient to overlook the vital psychological realities that lie behind some of the time periods we are studying.In addition, I was glad to see the suggestion that we gather more material on the religious aspects of the possibility of other life. I found that portion of our discussion to be extremely interesting, as it's always an amazing question to ponder as to why life exists, whether or not it is unique, what the nature of the universe is, and how different beliefs fit into it all. With a variety of perspective on this topic, I hope next week we can further develop our ideas about how different groups deal with religion in terms of space exploration.