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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Oneness With Universe

Back on February 7th 1971 (Earth time), Ed Mitchell was speeding much faster than a rifle bullet, on track between the Earth and Moon. That’s when the strangest thing happened…

Mitchell had piloted Apollo 14’s Lunar Module down to the Fra Mauro region of the Moon, become the sixth human to do science in the dust, and gotten himself and Cdr. Alan Shepard back off the regolith and onto their bus ride back home.

Now he was bored. “We were just systems engineers on a perfectly functioning spacecraft.” So he looked out the window. The Command Module was pointing “up” – which is to say perpendicular to the plane of the Solar System – and spinning slowly, about once every two minutes. “Barbecue Mode”, it’s called; to evenly heat the vehicle. Ed was floating, watching the Earth, Moon, Sun and starfield pan by.

And then, without warning: an overwhelming feeing of bliss, timelessness, connected-ness… He suddenly and deeply felt the understanding of his constituent atoms as having been born in the fires of ancient supernovas. He saw Earth and it’s people and all it’s other species and systems as a unified integrated synergistic whole. He felt good; ecstatic actually…

He was not the first – nor the last – to have this specific epiphany.

Rusty Schweikart had felt it back on March 6th 1969 during a spacewalk outside his Apollo 9 vehicle: “When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change…it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.”

20 years ago, author Frank White collected, sifted, polished and curated the observations of 30 astronauts and cosmonauts. But these weren’t science observations or notes about the spacecraft hardware. They were reports of this specific, marked psychological shift – common to all these space travelers – immediately and profoundly broadening these hard-boiled guys’ perspectives.

This morning, in a hotel across the street from the Pentagon in Washington, DC, Frank White addressed proponents of proselytizing this Overview Effect. Cognitive scientist David Beaver had called us here. A core group of about 40 authors, astronauts, special; effects designers, ex-magicians, musicians, scientists, technologists, producers, journalists, capitalists, space-tourist adventurers, humanists, assorted geeks, hippie-survivors (and, yes, this reporter) quickly decided upon a loose strategy of collaboration and mutual support. Intended mission: maximize opportunities for Earth-dwellers to have individual Overview experiences. Strategy: use art, science, mass media, music, environmental awareness, personal networking and, oh yeah: the Web to spread the opportunity for non-space travelers to understand and possibly experience the Effect.

After decades of studying this, Ed Mitchell is pretty certain that the feeling of interconnectedness / oneness with the Universe is a consequence of quantum physics. Now Mitchell and the others assembled here want, specifically to induce or produce the Overview Effect in as many of Earth’s citizens as possible.

If this feels a little religiously fervent to you, you’re not wrong. And that’s a danger – for at least three reasons: It tends to turn critical thinkers off before they start thinking truly critically about the possibilities. The Overviewers’ advocacy

But, to the good, the Overview Effect is - by definition - simultaneously ecumenical and agnostic. And it’s nothing if not a thrill ride:

40 years ago, Doug Trumbull instantiated Overview Effects in moviegoers as the special effects designer of Kubrick and Clarke’s 2001 a Space Odyssey. Since then Trumbull’s technical-artistic touched has graced many pivotal motions pictures. He, more than anyone, invented the motion-based movie-driven theme park ride. That little thing at Universal called Back to the Future, for instance; Trumbull made it fly.

Today, at the conference, Doug foresaw a time perhaps 5-6 years out when a video iPod-like device would deliver an Overview Effect-producing dose of media content directly to users’ retinas. Oh, and it looks like Trumbull will own or co-own the patent…

Andy Newberg, a neuroscientist/physician with a background in space medicine, is learning how to spot the markers: “You can often tell when you’re with someone who has flown in space,” he says, “It’s palpable.” Andy scans brains for a living: praying nuns, transcendental meditators, others in the act of focused states. He can pinpoint regions in subjects’ gray matter that correlate to these circumstances. Newberg is seriously looking at how to fly equipment that could study, in-situ, the brain functions of space travelers. If this Overview Effect is physiologically real, Andy could watch it happen.

Interestingly, Newberg’s first test subject will not be a paid astronaut, but rather a paying space tourist: Reda Andersen slated to fly with Rocketplane Kistler says “It would be criminal NOT to study the first of us (space adventure travelers).”

Barbara Marx Hubbard is convinced this is evolution in action: “The sleep of the womb is over,” she says, “We are growing up; becoming fully human.” Hubbard has worn many hats: disciple of Bucky Fuller, Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, international space advocate, and importantly a mother of five. As we’re born, Barbara says: “we pass from the Inner Space of our mothers into Outer Space”

So, keep the term “Overview Effect” in the top list of your search engine. In the next few years, you’ll see it connected to some awfully smart, entertaining, pithy, profound, soulful, and, yeah probably some way-too-silly and hopelessly doomed-to-fail stuff, as well.

But such is the messy, non-directed, unintended way of evolution.

Posted by Ajay :: 12:48 PM :: 0 comments

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