Professor Dennis Quinn
Synthesis Essay I: Contact and Bucchi
After reading Bucchi’s Science in Society as well as watching the Film Contact, I can see that there are several connections made between these two works. Both Bucchi and the film explore many issues pertinent to science and technology in today’s world. Using Bucchi’s Science in Society as a basis for my analysis, I will relate the film Contact to his writings as well as provide my own thoughts into the subject, raising questions into science, technology, and religion, providing examples along the way.
Contact is a great movie, hitting multiple levels of suspense, action, politics, and ...view middle of the document...
However following the discovery Dr. Arroway made from the VLA (Vert Large Array) Satellite Network in New Mexico, the world’s view on this matter is flipped upside down, challenging everything we once knew to be correct. This fact, according to Bucchi, is a perfect example of a “paradigm shift” (Bucchi, 29). For example, being a geography major it is safe to say that I know a good bit about maps. In a recent class on mine, it was said that the first person who “proved” the earth to be a sphere was Magellan in the 1400’s. This altered everybody’s thinking in that the only means of long distance transport at the time was by sea, under a notion that you could fall off at a certain point if you went far enough.
Besides Bucchi’s point on paradigm’s and its relating to Contact, there are many other ideas that transfer over as well. None so much as the Prologue of Bucchi’s book, Science in Society (Bucchi, 5). In this section, he comments on the everyday life of a scientist at CERN, or The Center for European Research in Nuclear Physics. Markus, the scientist conducts experiments on the world’s largest particle accelerator. However besides the new science and technology presented here, it was another thing that struck me as being the most awe inspiring. In describing Markus’ life here, he states a question that Markus receives all the time, regarding practical monetary payoffs from the machine. To this question, Markus replies ‘None’ and continues to explain how instead it “aims to gain understanding of where we come from, what matter is really made of (Bucchi, 6).” This alone in my opinion can be directly correlated with the movie Contact, where Dr. Arroway searches in a vast cosmos of emptiness looking for the tinniest glimmer of hope. It is these two things that personally give me hope in the world. Science for the sake of science and progress not directed solely towards a purpose of monetary gain.
Another scenario played out in Contact, and probably my favorite part of the movie, was during the construction of the machine after the alien intelligence sent us the blueprints. After the giant device was built, there was a huge debate to how it actually worked and what precautions to take as a result of building it. The mysterious machine reminded me much on Bucchi’s chapter “A New Science” in Science in Society. Within this chapter, Bucchi touches on new and upcoming technologies such as Cold fusion, HIV and AIDS, Climate Change, and Evolution (Bucchi, 93) in modern society. The technology and issues presented here are ones for which we have incomplete explanation’s of, ones for which we don’t know are possible or not, as well as ones that people still do not believe in. Just like the previous example where I mentioned the Particle accelerator, I think that the machine built in Contact as well as this have several connections. Once the particle accelerator was built and used for the first time, I remember there being theories to how it will...