I just recently viewed some videos on YouTube that showed the astronaut's talking about The Overview Effect. Before that I had never heard of it nor had been aware of it, but after watching just two videos it completely changed my way of thinking about EVERYTHING.
Not just about our fragile atmosphere that holds everything on the Earth, the sun really being a star that could blow up at any time or our tiny planet in space floating like a sitting duck for any asteroid to take out.
No, it means even more than all of that and the premise of it is far reaching.
A Critical Time
We live at a critical moment in human history. The challenges of climate change, food, water and energy shortages as well as the increasing disparity between the developed and developing nations are testing our will to unite, while differences in religions, cultures, and politics continue to keep us apart. The creation of a "global village" through satellite TV and the Internet is still struggling to connect the world into one community. At this critical moment, our greatest need is for a global vision of planetary unity and purpose for humanity as a whole.
The Overview Effect And What It Could Mean
For more than four decades, astronauts from many cultures and backgrounds have been telling us that, from the perspective of Earth orbit and the Moon, they have gained such a vision. There is even a common term for this experience: "The Overview Effect", a phrase coined in the book of the same name by space philosopher and writer Frank White. It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.
So far, the 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 the world, 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.
Two recent advances could dramatically change this limitation. The first is the advent of a commercial space industry that will soon begin taking tens of thousands of people into the near-space environment, far enough to grasp some aspects of the Overview Effect. Zero-gravity flights will make this effect of space travel available to many more. This is only the beginning of the historic human evolution into space, and the resulting transformations of human culture and consciousness as we become a space-faring culture.
The second major advance is the rapid maturity of high-definition digital media, from the internet-connected desktop to three-dimensional simulation media and virtual reality. These new technologies, together with other forms of art, media, blogs, entertainment and education will soon provide new and more powerful tools to immerse Earthbound audiences in a close approximation of the space environment and potentially bring the Overview Effect to many millions around the globe.
At this critical moment, the reality, significance, and relevance of the Overview Effect to the current problems facing humanity is seldom mentioned, and its potential contribution is largely underestimated and seldom promoted.
Social leaders who are deeply concerned with the critical issues of our time, such as the environment, energy, international relations, the economy and many more, often see the new space movement as a diversion of attention, resources, and energy from solving those very problems, rather than potentially one of the greatest tools for galvanizing world support and the will for solving them.
However this is just the beginning. Have faith. As I researched the Overview Effect I found lots of hope in non-profit organizations and people who are getting the word out there for all to learn about this amazing phenomenal effect that started with our space race and the view from “out there” in space.
I hope, with this website to write about technology and stories that will enable more of us to not only become more aware of, but perhaps experience some day the magnitude of feeling and togetherness that I feel the Overview Effect can teach us.
We may not be astronauts, and have not yet experienced our planet from space but we are human beings and as such can relate to each other all the experiences that man finds there.
Sources: Google, YouTube & Internet