The Overview Effect

As some of you may know, and as I elaborated in a previous post, those who have travelled to space often recount the sheer awe, and apprehension, they feel when catching sight of the earth from outside. The experience has been described as life altering and, as such, has been under study by a neuroscientist to try to understand it.

“You can often tell when you’re with someone who has flown in space, its palpable.”

– Andy Newberg

I happened to stumble upon this inspiring and important video by The Overview Institute, in which astronauts describe the effect, that I think should be seen by everyone.

Here it is on Vimeo.

And here on Youtube.

“Thus far, this unifying Overview Effect has been experienced by only a handful of space explorers, some 500 to date. Moreover, it has proven quite difficult for them to communicate more than just a portion of this potentially revolutionary experience to their listeners, despite their best efforts. Recent advances in cognitive science strongly suggest that these difficulties are directly related to the limitations of conventional media in communicating the rich and perspective altering experience of space. We will work with leading researchers as guides to the best media tools and strategies to overcome this challenge to communicating the Overview Effect.” Our Vision

The Institute has also created a feature length film called Planetary. Can we get this into congresses, parliaments and schools worldwide please?

When I watch the Vimeo video I can’t help but contrast it with the trivializing of earth that I hear in Elon Musk’s, and other wannabe Martians comments.

“The future of humanity is fundamentally going to bifurcate along one of two directions: Either we’re going to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization, or we’re going be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event.”

Stuck on one planet. Sounds pretty awful. Don’t get me wrong, I think that space exploration is fantastic, heck, I’d love to go on a temporary off-planet exploration! And, yes, we certainly have a lot of dire ecological issues to address. But in our haste to “get off this rock”, as others have put it, let’s not lose sight of what we already have. That’s got to be our first priority. As astronaut Scott Carpenter said:

“This planet is not terra firma. It is a delicate flower and it must be cared for. It’s lonely. It’s small. It’s isolated, and there is no resupply. And we are mistreating it. Clearly, the highest loyalty we should have is not to our own country or our own religion or our hometown or even to ourselves. It should be to, number two, the family of man, and number one, the planet at large. This is our home, and this is all we’ve got.”

Courtesy NASA

Courtesy NASA

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