Thursday, December 13, 2012

ThinkKit D13: My Impossible Dream Trip

View from the cupola on the ISS - I want to go there
"Plan out your dream trip! Is there somewhere you really want go in 2013? Pick a place in Indy, or anywhere in the world."

The trip of my dreams, you say?  Anywhere in the world, you say?  Is low earth orbit still "anywhere in the world"? Like many Gen Xers, I grew up fantasizing about NASA, space travel, and the now decommissioned space shuttle program.  I subscribed to Odyssey magazine, fantasized about space camp, and devoured picture books with high level schematics of the space shuttle and various rocket programs.  I watched two space shuttles explode, live on television. I like astronaut ice cream.  I love planetarium shows to this day.  I have a couple of night sky oriented apps on my phone   I was a space junkie then and probably would be considered a closet fanatic today.

So, my dream trip would find me coughing up $200,000 and putting my faith in successful nutjob Richard Branson so I could rocket into space.  Since this is a dream trip, let's make a pitstop at the ISS so I can check out the cupola.  But probably the biggest reason for my dream trip into space is the chance to experience the Overview Effect.  Described as a cognitive shift in reality, the overview effect is  a phenomena many astronauts experience when they see the entire planet from space.  I do think I have experienced its earth bound version.  It would be something like an inverted Overview Effect I suppose, or the feeling you get when you shift to wide angle vision when staring into a clear starry sky that runs horizon to horizon.  I remember two distinct occurrences; once while camping in the heart of the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix and the other while backpacking deep in Olympic National Park.  It's a deeply powerful experience that produces a euphoric sense of interconnectedness.      

The Overview Effect has been likened to an enlightened state produced during meditation.  A taste of enlightenment without all the "work"?  That's icing on the cake that is my dream trip to Earth's orbit.  

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