Imagine taking a trip to Mars without leaving the familiar confines of your computer work area. The voyage is now possible by using the latest in multi-media technology: a DVD -ROM, co-authored by West Virginia University Professor Robert Markley.
Red Planet: Scientific and Cultural Encounters with Mars is the first and only published scholarly educational DVD -ROM for home, library or school use, offering in-depth, cross-disciplinary analysis of Mars as both an object of scientific study and a cultural artifact.
“Red Planet constitutes an entire virtual library on Mars,”said Dr. Markley, the Jackson Distinguished Chair of British Literature in WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.
With more than 3.0 gigabytes of material, it features extended video interviews with scientists, cultural critics and visionaries. Red Planet includes animation, hundreds of pages of text, voice-over narration, biographies of key figures, bibliographies and technical glossaries.
“By compiling our information on a DVD -ROM, we were able to include about six times more data than if we put it on a traditional CD-ROM,”Markley said.”Plus, because DVD -ROMs read data about seven times faster than CD-ROMs, the quality of the video segments is much higher.”
Throughout, hyperlinks provide access to additional resources and Mars-related sites on the World Wide Web. The host server links to web pages that are regularly updated with the latest information on the red planet.
Exploring the roles Mars has played in 19th and 20th century astronomy, literature and speculative thought, Red Planet presents discussions with science fiction writers including Kim Stanley Robinson, cultural critics such as N. Katherine Hayles and a diverse group of major scientific figures including Richard Zare, Carol Stoker, Christopher McKay and Robert Zubrin.
“Together, they help students investigate the social, philosophical and economic values and assumptions that underlie different views on the future of our encounters with Mars, the next frontier,”Markley said.
Markley is the author of numerous works in the cultural study of science, including Dying Planet: Mars and the Anxieties of Ecology from the Canals of Terraformation.
Co-authoring the DVD -ROM were WVU doctoral student Helen Burgess and two educators from Washington State University VancouverHarrison Higgs, director of the Multimedia Application Research Studio, and Michelle Kendrick, professor in Electronic Media and Culture. It took the group more than three years to complete the project.
Markley expects his latest work to be used in a number of different ways.
“From the Mars enthusiast who may purchase it at a planetarium, to the college administrator who may choose this as curricula, both should find it fascinating,”he said.
Markley predicts use of the DVD -ROM as an educational tool will be the wave of the future.
“Its portability and interactive control for the user are the major advantages,”Markley said.
Red Planet is published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. To preview the DVD -ROM, go to: www.mariner10.com .