Overview Effect

Thirtieth Anniversary of the Publication of The Overview Effect

Written by The Overview Effect and the Earth's Future on Saturday, 22 April 2017. Posted in Overview Effect

The first edition of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution was published by Houghton-Mifflin in 1987.


The Overview Effect and the Earth's Future

Written by Frank White on Wednesday, 04 January 2017. Posted in Overview Effect

Astronauts have many varied responses to seeing the Earth from space and in space. However, one stands out for most observers: they come to have a deeper appreciation not only of the beauty of our home planet but also for its importance to humanity's future. I have not interviewed an astronaut as yet who is content to say that we can ignore the Earth as we move out into the solar system.

However, many of the justifications for settling Mars center on having a "Plan B" or an "insurance policy" in case something happens to the Earth. The term "extinction event" is being used more and more. We need to explore this mindset and consider what it means for the future of the Earth. Is it simply common sense, and should we not have such an insurance policy, or is it a subtle way to care less about the natural spaceship that gave us birth and protects us as we move through the universe at a high rate of speed?

More on this topic later!


Looking Ahead to 2017

Written by Publishing the Third Edition of The Overview Effect on Tuesday, 03 January 2017. Posted in Overview Effect

Looking ahead to 2017, it promises to be a busy year for space exploration and development.

The dialogue has shifted from "Should we expand outward into the solar system?" to "How are we going to do it?"

There is also the question of how exploring and developing the solar system will benefit our home planet and the people who choose to remain inhabitants of it.

This is why the Overview Effect is so important. In all of my interviews with astronauts, none of them said we should explore outer space because we needed to abandon the Earth. Rather, all of them seemed to have a renewed concern for the planet and for preserving it.

For this reason, I believe that the question before us is not even "How are we going to do it?" but "How are we going to do it right?"

More on this topic later.

Frank White






Memorial Day

Written by Frank White on Monday, 25 May 2015. Posted in Overview Effect

On Memorial Day, I think about my father and his life, which included stints in the Army during World War II and Korea. I have shared in another blog post how he introduced me to the interpretation of aerial photography, a skill that he put to good use in the Pacific Theatre during WWII, and later on in civilian life.

I don't know how much those early views of the Earth from above influenced me, and pointed me to the Overview Effect, but I am sure they had an impact. It reminds me that, no matter what we accomplish in life, we do not achieve it alone. Each one of us is part of a greater whole system, extended in time and space. Perhaps our purpose is to contribute to the evolution and well-being of that system, but always to realize that we are not simply individual actors delivering a monologue. Rather, we are part of an ensemble, participating in an extraordinary cosmic play.

---Frank White

Publishing the Third Edition of The Overview Effect

Written by Frank White on Sunday, 12 October 2014. Posted in Overview Effect

I still find it hard to believe that the first edition of The Overview Effect was published 27 years ago. That means I had been working on the idea for more than 30 years. I am especially gratified at the staying power of this concept, which suggests to me that there is something substantive behind it, something far larger than me as a writer. I re-read every word of the second edition while preparing the third edition, and I was struck, again, by the profundity of what the astronauts had to say about their experiences. I believe the interviews with the astronauts (29 of them in this edition) are the key to the success of the book. Everything I have written may turn out to be wrong or shortsighted, but the astronaut interviews will be valuable to historians for years to come. So I want to thank all of them for all they have done for us, our planet, and the universe.