Space Exploration: The Humans vs Robots Debate
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Space Zen: Will Humans' Brains Change During Travel in Outer Space? -A Galaxy Insight

903220_big_2 In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”. He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Without warning, he says, a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He describes becoming instantly and profoundly aware that each of his constituent atoms were connected to the fragile planet he saw in the window and to every other atom in the Universe. He described experiencing an intense awareness that Earth, with its humans, other animal species, and systems were all one synergistic whole. He says the feeling that rushed over him was a sense of interconnected euphoria. He was not the first—nor the last—to experience this strange “cosmic connection”.

Rusty Schweikart experienced it 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.” Schweikart, similar to what Mitchell experienced, describes intuitively sensing that everything is profoundly connected.

Their experiences, along with dozens of other similar experiences described by other astronauts, intrigue scientists who study the brain. This “Overview Effect”, or acute awareness of all matter as synergistically connected, sounds somewhat similar to certain religious experiences described by Buddhist monks, for example. Where does it come from and why?

Andy Newberg, a neuroscientist/physician with a background in spacemedicine, is learning how to identify the markers of someone who hasexperienced space travel. He says there is a palpable difference in someone who has been in space, and he wants to know why. Newberg
specializes in finding the neurological markers of brains in states of altered consciousness: Praying nuns, transcendental mediators, and others in focused or "transcendent" states.

Newberg can actually pinpoint regions in subjects' gray matter that correlate to these circumstances, and now he plans to use his expertise to find how and why the Overview Effect occurs. He is setting up advanced neurological scanning instruments that can head into space to study--live--the brain functions of space travelers. If this Overview Effect is a real, physiological phenomenon—he wants to watch it unfold.

Newberg's first test subject will not be an astronaut, but rather a civilian. Reda Andersen will be leaving the planet with Rocketplane Kistler. She says, that as one of the world's first civilian space adventurers, she is more than happy to let Andy scan her brain if it can help unlock the mystery. Why do astronauts all seem to experience a profound alteration of their perceptions when entering space, and will it happen for Rita and the other civilian explorers as well?

After decades of study and contemplation about his experience, Ed Mitchell believes that the feeling of “oneness” with the Universe that he and others have experienced is a consequence of little understood quantum physics.

In a recent interview with writer Diana deRegnier of American Chronicle, Mitchell explains how the event changed his life and his entire perspective on the world and how each of us fits into the grand scale of the cosmos.

“Four hundred years ago. the philosopher Rene Descartes came to the conclusion that physicality, spirituality, mind and body belonged to different realms of reality that didn't interact. Now, that served the purpose to get the Inquisition off the backs of the intellectuals so they could disagree on material things with the church and without the fear of being burned at the stake. So that ended that, but it did cause, for four hundred years, science to consider consciousness and mind a subject for philosophy and religion and not a subject for science.

Now, one of the things that happened, in the 1940s, was the mathematician, physicist, Norbert Wiener (MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for the first time really defined information as the negative of entropy, and entropy as the idea of the universe is running down and wastes energy. But, Wiener defined information as the negative of entropy, and that's wonderful but it didn't go far enough.”

Mitchell says that in an attempt to fill in some of the missing gap, the 2008 revised edition of his book The Way of the Explorer explores the largely ignored science of human consciousness. Using what he calls the “dyadic model” he outlines the “two faces” of energy. “Instead of being two separate things, it's the energy as the basis of our existence in matter. And, it’s the basis of our knowing and information,” Mitchell explains.

“We had not had, in science, a definition of consciousness. The only definition of consciousness from the dictionary is that at its basic level it is awareness. Consciousness means to be aware, and then we have different levels of consciousness depending upon how complex the substance is. It has been demonstrated many times over in laboratories that basic awareness is demonstrable at the level of plants, at simple bacteria, at simple life forms.

This is done with Faraday cages. It's shown that this information at this deep level, at the quantum level, can transcend electromagnetic theory. And, now we're getting into quantum physics and we don´t want to go there at this point. But it's a very fundamental notion that awareness is at the very basis of things.”

Mitchell believes that perhaps both the theologians and scientists have missed the mark.

“All I can suggest to the mystic and the theologian is that our gods have been too small; they fill the universe. And to the scientist all I can say is that the gods do exist; they are the eternal, connected, and aware Self experienced by all intelligent beings.'

In response to DeRegnier questioning whether or not Mitchell believes in the idea of God, he responds that while he does not believe in the traditional “grandfather figure” version of God, “we do have great mystery about what is the origin of the universe, how it came to be. There's a great deal of question as to whether the big bang is the correct answer to the way the universe arose, and under what auspices and conditions. I don't think we have the full answers to that yet. Hopefully in due course we'll be able to find a much better way to describe all this.”

But while Mitchell does not claim to know how to perfectly interpret his experience, he is certain that it was a glimpse into a largely ignored reality: People, places and things are all more closely connected than they sometimes appear. He also mentions the need for better stewardship of our precious planet.

“The great thinker Buckminster Fuller, philosopher, now deceased but for a goodly portion of the twentieth century, pointed out at the beginning of our space exploration that we are the crew of ‘space ship earth’. But we 're a crew of mutiny and how can you run a space ship with a mutinous crew?”

Posted by Rebecca Sato

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Full Interview Link:
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/62242

Comments

To experience this feeling one should try salvia.

Well, this certainly feels like the Khala, which was experienced by the protoss in the Video Game of Starcraft.

On my blog - url linked to my name below - I research the invisible world of the mind and consciousness. You will find a lot of information on questions asked on this page. Don´t believe anything, check and recheck.

Science may have little understanding of consciousness, but eastern philosophy has a great deal. Many levels and states of consciousness are described in near scientific detail in Yogic philosophy, including techniques on how to achieve these states. The change achieved here through space travel is written of nearly 3000 years ago in the Vedas, specifically in many of the Upanishads.

Also, I find it interesting that Mitchell thinks 'our Gods have been too small'. Most eastern religions are pantheistic, holding that God and all of existence are one. And even in western religion, descriptions of God include the words Infinite, Omniscient and Omnipresent. The idea of God has always been quite large, allowing for nothing larger.

This is a peak-experience, otherwise known as a religious experience. Abraham Maslow studied it thoroughly and wrote a few popular science books on his findings. His belief is that when all your psychological, physiological and social needs are met your consciousness will operate at peak efficiency.

Carl Sagan believed this phenomenon to be neurological. Although he did not go so far as to name it outright, the same symptoms were outlined and a very brief connection made. He asserted that when the left or right halves of the mind malfunction it can produce entropic states of mind, or it could cause harmonious, singular states of mind, depending on which hemisphere dominates during the incident. This may be caused by any form of malfunction, from drug use (releasing in inappropriate amounts of naturally occurring substances) to head trauma (caused by tumors, projectiles, seizure, etc.)

The universe is entropic. Order is the perceived result of humans quantifying and qualifying in order to better adapt and survive. Our minds normally operate within these two paradoxical states because this mechanism allows us as a species to adapt and yet hold fast to perceived orders that foster extended existence. When supreme order and singularity are observed - this is our mind viewing itself without impedance from external forces.

When chaos is all that is available, our mind has given up it's tenuous connections and is viewing the universe without the construct of human order. This is Maslow's Nadir experience. The mixed state of both is preferable - but short episodes of either state can sharpen our intellect on one hand, and enrich our emotional well being on the other.

Viewing earth from space may cause psychological or physiological duress, or perhaps both - resulting in our minds literally altering. This effect has been caused by many circumstances in the past. A religious leader at sea during a life threatening storm. A neuro-scientist with a tumor. A tripped out hippie (it almost caused cultural revolution).

This need not be studied from space, it is a well documented phenomenon. Obsessive compulsive peoples are more likely to see order, depressed individuals - disorder. Their interplay is what makes us human, and experiencing both in isolated circumstance is terribly important.

I do like the idea that viewing earth from outer space triggers this effect, it speaks to the power of the psychological state in contrast to our physical being. That or those astronauts really need make sure they are getting enough oxygen.

This is a peak-experience, otherwise known as a religious experience. Abraham Maslow studied it thoroughly and wrote a few popular science books on his findings. His belief is that when all your psychological, physiological and social needs are met your consciousness will operate at peak efficiency.

Carl Sagan believed this phenomenon to be neurological. Although he did not go so far as to name it outright, the same symptoms were outlined and a very brief connection made. He asserted that when the left or right halves of the mind malfunction it can produce entropic states of mind, or it could cause harmonious, singular states of mind, depending on which hemisphere dominates during the incident. This may be caused by any form of malfunction, from drug use (releasing in inappropriate amounts of naturally occurring substances) to head trauma (caused by tumors, projectiles, seizure, etc.)

The universe is entropic. Order is the perceived result of humans quantifying and qualifying in order to better adapt and survive. Our minds normally operate within these two paradoxical states because this mechanism allows us as a species to adapt and yet hold fast to perceived orders that foster extended existence. When supreme order and singularity are observed - this is our mind viewing itself without impedance from external forces.

When chaos is all that is available, our mind has given up it's tenuous connections and is viewing the universe without the construct of human order. This is Maslow's Nadir experience. The mixed state of both is preferable - but short episodes of either state can sharpen our intellect on one hand, and enrich our emotional well being on the other.

Viewing earth from space may cause psychological or physiological duress, or perhaps both - resulting in our minds literally altering. This effect has been caused by many circumstances in the past. A religious leader at sea during a life threatening storm. A neuro-scientist with a tumor. A tripped out hippie (it almost caused cultural revolution).

This need not be studied from space, it is a well documented phenomenon. Obsessive compulsive peoples are more likely to see order, depressed individuals - disorder. Their interplay is what makes us human, and experiencing both in isolated circumstance is terribly important.

I do like the idea that viewing earth from outer space triggers this effect, it speaks to the power of the psychological state in contrast to our physical being. That or those astronauts really need make sure they are getting enough oxygen.

I had a similar experience to this (and Marcus Rice) several times after eating shrooms

I had a similar experience in the hours before I woke up in the gutter outside an Irish bar with a burnt out cigarette on my lips and my clothes covered in all the long island iced teas I expelled from my system. If astronauts experience this euphoria it is possible it is so because they have worked for so long and hard to be at that particular point and the satisfaction of achievement is blissful.

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