How Maps Influenced Our Ideas About Mars
University Showcase 4/16 8a: From "War of the Worlds" to "The Martian Chronicles," the planet Mars has long held a grip on our popular imagination. But where did these early ideas about vast networks of canals and advanced, and sometimes hostile, civilizations come from? On this episode we explore the power of mapmaking to create reality, but also the tendency to work out our own problems on Earth by projecting them onto Mars.
Professor Maria Lane chairs the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies at the University of New Mexico. She studies environmental knowledge claims and is particularly interested in maps, science, and stories and the roles they play in creating, challenging, or legitimizing different human-environment understandings, which is why the evolution of knowledge and stories about Mars are so appealing to her.
She’s the author of the book “Geographies of Mars: Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet" and was recently featured in a National Geographic video about feuding Mars mapmakers.