Ad/Graph Thesis – Conducting Research

Last week, I explained that I was more or less settled on the topic of space exploration. After explaining this to the class last week, everyone seemed pretty intrigued in one form or another. Here are some of the major takeaways and initial reactions since then:

• A large portion of the class doesn't consider themselves well-versed in all things space, but many would be willing to learn a few interesting facts.

• Some people are not fond of space, most often due to its vastness, emptiness, and mysterious nature.

• A select few people are very interested in space, and are quick to talk about it in-depth.

A discussion with the class proved to be a great litmus test, but I'm still not certain about what I should highlight within the topic of space exploration.

One thing that I've been especially intrigued by this week, however, is the Voyager Record. Two copies of this gold-plated copper disc have been sent out into space aboard Voyager 1 and 2, with the former having officially left our solar system a few years ago. Should any intelligent life stumble across the records, they will find a variety of sound clips, greetings, songs, diagrams, and images of what we believe to encapsulate humanity. It definitely has me thinking about what the people of today (myself included) would want to send out. It's a communication challenge in the truest sense, and that's what I find most interesting. Below is an image of the record, along with some the media stored inside.

I've also been fascinated by the space-related milestones that humanity have made, as well as what lies ahead. The Voyager probes are billions of miles away, Rosetta landed on a comet in the fall, and NASA has recently announced plans to explore the icy moon of Europa (which might have subsurface oceans). It could very well be that my thesis project finds ways to share interesting facts like these, in an attempt to provoke and celebrate human curiosity. If many of the people attending the show in April are fearful of space, a human element could certainly make things more accessible.

Europa, Jupiter's icy moon

As I've said, there are countless elements to space exploration, and it's hard narrowing things down. Perhaps it's worth conducting a survey by next week, so I can determine what people might find interesting.

I've also begun creating a short list of people that I'd like to try and contact for additional research, including Richard Bentham (an exhibition designer from the National Air & Space Museum), Edward C. Stone (the chief scientist of the Voyager missions), and maybe a public figure like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Michio Kaku. Some of these people are long shots, but we'll see what happens. Within the next week, I'll hopefully begin talking with people on the subject.

As difficult as the initial stages can be, I'm excited about what will happen in the next couple of weeks.