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Space scientists, humanist scholars to explore outer space from new perspective
Date:9/13/2007

Space agencies and scientists are tirelessly working to make manned missions back to the Moon and then onwards to Mars a reality. The technologies involved are awe-inspiring, but what challenges do historians, philosophers or sociologists expect us to face in an era of interplanetary exploration and, perhaps, colonisation"

To find out, the European Science Foundation (ESF), European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) are co-hosting a conference in Vienna, on 11-12 October 2007, at which humanist scholars and space scientists will come together, for the first time in Europe, to discuss humankinds presence in space from non-traditional perspectives. The conference Humans in Outer Space Interdisciplinary Odysseys will give guiding insight into how once we find a way to survive in outer space we will also face issues that can be best addressed in the light of modern understanding of historical events.

Issues that conference delegates will explore include the philosophical and theological consequences of contacting alien intelligences, the marketing of space exploration, and the legal frameworks that will be needed if space-faring nations are to co-operate peacefully.

The event is being organised in part by an ESF Steering Committee chaired by Professor Luca Codignola, a historian at the University of Genoa. He is particularly interested in what history can tell us about the challenges we may face if space explorers make contact with alien civilisations.

The so-called Columbian Exchange that took place around 1492 was a typical case in point. It changed the Western way of conceiving the globe; it forcefully challenged its theology; it allowed for a free flow of bacteria, germs and microbes that almost wiped out the American peoples, he explained.

Professor Codignola prepared for the upcoming Vienna conference by helping to organise a preliminary seminar, held earlier this year in Genoa.
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Contact: Dr. Jean-Claude Worms
jcworms@esf.org
33-038-876-7188
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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