Blake Snow

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Tagged space

The overview effect: Why I’ll NEVER travel to space

Most kids want to go to space. This is because kids are stupid, myself included.

I no longer want to go to space. Here’s why.

  1. The overview effect. This is the “overwhelming sadness” many astronauts feel upon reaching space and realizing they just left the most beautiful thing in the entire, observable universe. As astronaut Bill Anders recalled on Christmas Eve, 1968, when he shot the iconic Earthrise photo (pictured), “When I looked up and saw the Earth coming up on this very stark, beat-up Moon horizon, I was immediately overcome with the thought, ‘Here we came all this way to the Moon, and yet the most significant thing we’re seeing is our own home planet, the Earth.'” William Shatner, who traveled to space in 2021, remarked, “All of a sudden, as though you whip a sheet off you when you’re asleep, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness. And you look down. There’s the blue down there and the black up there. And there is mother Earth and comfort. And up there… Is that death? I don’t know.”
  2. It’s all right here. As I sung on my second album, everything that’s good in the observable universe is “all right here.” Maybe something is cool beyond the observable universe. But within the bajillions of square light years that makes up the universe, nothing even comes close to the beauty, life, diversity, adventure, and generosity of earth and its alpha species (humans). Yes the world can be a cold, dark place sometimes. But it’s not nearly as cold, dark, and ugly as space. Again, it’s not even close. So it is here I will stay. I’m not making the same mistake many people in literature and movies often do—leaving home only to discover that the best thing they had was right in front of them.

No amount of blackness will ever change that for me. Happy holidays!

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This video makes me want to high five the universe (and hug a rock)


Not only that, but it makes me want to roast marshmellows around a fire and sing Cumbauya with believers and non-believers alike. Either way, I like watching Neil Tyson on PBS Nova. But I really like him after hearing this wonderful answer put to music and film.

That said, I still think modern NASA is a dinosaur. It’s the equivalent of thinking the Internet still needs a government agency like ARPANET to perpetuate great things.

It doesn’t, although I believe in NASA, ARPANET and similar “start up” public technologies to get the ball rolling, since the private sector would likely never incur the initial hard costs to get these kinds of things going.

So thanks government. But please step aside once you’ve paved the way — we’ll take it from here. (That last line basically sums up most of my political thinking).