The weird psychological effects of Space
Do you ever think about how everything that has ever been, everything we understand about the world, everything that human understanding *is*, is located on Earth? It's probably not good to think about things like that too much – you could go a bit strange. But I recently read this fascinating thing about "The Overview Effect", which is often experienced by astronauts:
"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"
Others have a different sort of highly emotional moment of awareness, though. Another astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, felt a more universal sense of connectedness:
"People started talking about their hearts connected to this planet. But my response when I went into space is that I was connected to everything," she says. "I felt much more connected to everything else in the universe, and sometimes on Earth I felt much more separate from the rest of the universe. I felt like I had as much right to be in space or in this universe as any speck of stardust. I was as eternal as that."
And let's not forget Carl Sagan's famous 'Pale Blue Dot'...
If you were forced to think about it all, how would you react?