Fifty years after the first lunar landing again we find the exploration of space to be inviting. Two missions are in progress to return soil samples from a near-Earth asteroid, several countries are enthusiastically invested in sending artificial satellites and humans to the Moon and to Mars, and NASA has approved new missions to the outer Solar System. Further afield, we passively search for extraterrestrial life by the chance reception of alien broadcasts at radio wavelengths and by the development of a nanosatellite bound for the nearest star to us apart from our Sun. Our quest to open new spaces that extend wider and further than ever before promises immense scientific and technological milestones to be met. It is also an occasion to converse about vexing and relatively unexplored socio-political issues which such discoveries entail. Does an expansion into space carve opportunities to improve or, rather, exacerbate our currently polarizing Earth-related physical and social difficulties? Could it potentially force us to redefine natural and human-made categories of scarcity, identity, coexistence, etc., and if so, how? Finally, might our scientific choices in space expansion provide a rare window to reimagine current ideas on human nature and life's values?
Brenda Frye is endeavouring to understand how galaxies first formed and then evolved over cosmic time into the massive objects that we see today such as the Milky Way. She makes use of gravitational lenses, which act much like eyeglass lenses, to bring into focus these otherwise too faint and distant galaxies. Professor Frye earned her PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton University, and took on a faculty position in Ireland before being recruited as Assistant Professor/Astronomer at the University of Arizona.
Ofrit Liviatan is the Director of Harvard College’s Freshman Seminar Program and a lecturer on law and politics at Harvard’s Department of Government. She holds a PhD and MA (with distinction) from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, as well as an Israeli law degree where she was admitted to the bar and practiced constitutional, criminal and commercial law.
Dr. Liviatan’s research and teaching interests include: law and society, the role of legal mechanisms in the accommodation of diversity; tensions between legal theory and practice; and religion-state relationship. Her current work-in-progress investigates the functions of law in ethno-cultural and ethno-national conflicts. As part of her Directorship role, Dr. Liviatan oversees a matrix of ~140 seminars designed as a unique first-year introduction of Harvard’s disciplinary universe.
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