October 24, 2007

The Overview Effect on Observers

"The Overview Effect" is described as a feeling of oneness, unification, and connection with the Earth as one single living organism. This effect occurs when astronauts are in space observing the Earth from the outside in.

Their is debate upon the legitimacy of this effect; however, some have gone so far as to say that it's inherent in our genes: being in space is part of our evolution. Five billion years of life and in the last forty five years, life finally made it back where it was "truly" born: space, the origin of all life.

So physicists actually hypothesize that the overview effect is a natural effect of quantum physics (that devilish little subject even the Ph.D's don't fully understand) on the human body. Will all these hypotheses flying around, one question still hasn't been answered definitively and I do not know if it will anytime soon: is the overview effect physiologically real, or psychologically real or both?

I personally believe space is simply a part of evolution: a process not totally explained by natural selection. What if entering a human entering space underwent an instant evolution on an individual basis, sort of like a cosmic barmitzvah? Space is our ultimate destiny as a species. In one hundred years we've gone from steam to space.. who's the say in the next hundred we won't go from Saturn to stars?

However, my question about this overview effect is if only astronauts have felt it. I personally think that astronomers have sampled the overview effect, however, not in its concentrated glory like astronauts have. I mean why else can a hobby turn into a lifetime passion? Amateur astronomers spend their lives collecting new and more advanced optic technology to delve just a fraction deeper into the void of space. Looking for what?

I like to chalk up what I think of as the "astronomers overview effect" to one of those liquor-containing choclates available around the holidays: we've certainly sampled it, and now we're going after the bottle that only those astronauts can seem to get plenty of.