week8_outside space and final abstract. by Devin Quinlan

In almost every person’s life there is a moment where they are confronted with the sudden realization that they are nothing but a tiny, infinitesimal speck in the vast expanse of space and time. This feeling can result in a range of emotions, from loneliness to astonishment or even to wonder. Regardless of emotion, the effect is the same: a growing desire to learn and explore beyond our world, either to hopefully find that we aren’t alone, or just to find out exactly where we are in the scope of the universe.

Thus, space exploration has grown from the astronomical calculations of the ancient civilizations to the research of Copernicus and Galileo, all the way to the missions into space that have only taken place in the last century. With billions of dollars being sent towards space exploration and discovery, however, it begs the question: should we be spending money on space exploration?

I have always felt like space exploration (at least when it comes to visiting other planets/moons, not satellite missions) seems to be like marking off an interstellar checklist of planets that could potentially have life on them. Satellites and telescopes are able to do a lot of the marking for us, for instance allowing us to check off Jupiter as a planet that couldn’t possibly have life on it because of how dense it is. Long-distance observation can’t quite cut it for many of the moons and planets, either because they can’t see through the clouds or through the surface of the planet. This has led to explorations, such as the one to mars, where samples were collected to see if there was underground water, one of the conditions that is necessary for life to exist (or at least we think it is necessary). Unfortunately what we found on Mars was “inconclusive”, so in 2011 another Mars rover will be sent. Other orbiting bodies fall into this category as well, such as Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which is said to contain water under its icy surface. Unlike Mars, Europa is said to contain liquid water under the surface, which could potentially harbor life. This gives a lot more hope to scientists and explorers, because we know that one of the elements of life is already there.

Space exploration, though valuable to our knowledge of the cosmos, is not necessarily beneficial for mankind. With problems like global warming and pollution becoming increasingly threatening to our survival as a race, it is important that we keep in mind that we are more important than some other celestial beings, and we must make sure that we give enough money to research ways to save ourselves than to explore new planets. Furthermore, there is so much undiscovered life in our own planet, such as at the bottom of our ocean floor, that we ought to just explore and discover the things on our own planet to satisfy our alien cravings. Some deep sea fish are absolutely incredible, with strange lights and bodies that have adapted to worlds of almost pure darkness. There are even organisms on our ocean floor that use sulfur instead of oxygen to breathe!

So while space exploration is a necessary step in understanding our universe, it doesn’t have to happen right away, and I’d honestly say that we find out all of the cool “aliens” on our planet before we take things to chance and hope we find something elsewhere.




(brings back memories)


What is life? This is the essential question that I wish to answer. By adapting the porous, gel scaffolds that are applied to burn victims to regrow skin, I hope to create massive scaffolds that resemble humans, animals, and inanimate objects that we see in everyday life. These scaffolds will grow skin cells and eventually dissolve, leaving statues of skin that would be displayed in an exhibit. These will hopefully cause observers to question the nature of life, and to touch on controversial issues such as abortion, where cells less developed and in less number than the ones on display are claimed to have a right to life. Eventually the statues will continue to grow out of shape and become distorted, eventually dying, bringing up ideas of chaos and order, the nature of life, and even an allusion to global cooperation to try and save our world.

By Devin Quinlan

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