Interpreting Life on Mars: Scientific Data and Popular Knowledge|
E&ES 143, HIST 143|
|Course Cluster: Planetary Science|
Few objects of scientific importance can match Mars for sustained public interest on an international scale. From 1609, when Galileo first viewed Mars, to the present day viewer interest in NASA Mars image data on the web, a significant part of the public's fascination with Mars has related to its potential as an abode for intelligent life. But why and where did the idea of life on Mars originate? What scientific evidence has been advanced in favor and against the idea of life on Mars? How is Mars evidence used by scientific communities, funding bodies, and creators of popular literature and cinema? Instructors will use selected case studies from the history of observations and interpretations of Mars as a starting point for exploring the definition of scientific method, the nature of scientific practice and the relations between science and the public. Laboratory work will include mapmaking exercises, telescopic observations and the examination of rocks and soils that give students a practical understanding of the work done in planetary observation. Students will read and discuss primary historical documents to gain knowledge of the varying themes and economic contexts of Mars research, from 1600 to today. Life on Mars has been the subject of popularization efforts and mass media, from H. G. Wells' popular "War of the Worlds" (1898); Percival Lowell's "Mars as the Abode of Life" (1908); to films, including "A Trip to Mars" (1910) produced by Thomas Edison, to "Aelita: The Queen of Mars" (1924) and the many science fiction films during the Space Age. We will explore the nature and significance of these and other cultural representations of Mars in order to understand better how public perceptions of science are integral to scientific practice, and how scientists are transforming our understanding of the planet's history and habitability.
Will examine how data from Mars are interpreted and influenced by popular culture.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
||Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available
|Major Readings: Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore
Reading are TBA, but may include:
William Sheehan, THE PLANET MARS: A HISTORY OF OBSERVATION AND DISCOVERY (1996)
Maria Lane, GEOGRAPHERS OF MARS, ISIS
H.G. Wells, WAR OF THE WORLDS and THE THINGS THAT LIVE ON MARS
Percival Lowell, sels. MARS AND ITS CANALS, MARS AS THE ABODE OF LIFE, and THE SOUL OF THE FAR EAST
David Leverington, BABYLON TO VOYAGER AND BEYOND: A HISTORY OF PLANETARY ASTRONOMY
Carl Sagan, MARS AND THE MIND OF MAN
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Laboratory assignments, film project and paper.
|Instructor(s): Gilmore,Martha S. Tucker,Jennifer Times: ..T.R.. 10:30AM-11:50AM; Location: SCIE405; |
|Total Enrollment Limit: 40||SR major: 4||JR major: 4|| || |
|Seats Available: -1||GRAD: X||SR non-major: 6||JR non-major: 6||SO: 10||FR: 10|
|Drop/Add Enrollment Requests|
|Total Submitted Requests: 11||1st Ranked: 2||2nd Ranked: 2||3rd Ranked: 1||4th Ranked: 1||Unranked: 5|