More than 30 years ago, Frank White coined the term Overview Effect; to describe the cognitive shift in awareness that results from the experience of viewing Earth from orbit or the moon. He found that, with great consistency, this experience profoundly affects space travelers’ worldviews – their perceptions of themselves and our planet, and our understanding of the future. White found that astronauts know from direct experience what the rest of us know only intellectually: we live on a planet that is like a natural spaceship moving through the universe at a high rate of speed. We are, in fact, the crew of Spaceship Earth; as Buckminster Fuller described our world. In The Overview Effect, Third Edition Frank White expands on his original concept, which has now gained worldwide recognition and exposure. Using interviews with and writings by numerous astronauts and cosmonauts, he describes space exploration and settlement as necessary next steps in the evolution of human civilization and consciousness.
In 1986, Frank White was working on his groundbreaking book, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, when he heard the late Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, say, “The country has never had a
philosophy of space exploration.” This began a continuing quest to develop a deep understanding of why (and how) humans should explore the universe. The Cosma Hypothesis represents the culmination of White’s effort to develop a space philosophy. Following the pattern set in The Overview Effect, the book draws on interviews with astronauts about the ways in which spaceflight shifted their understanding of our relationship with the universe. The Cosma Hypothesis suggests that our purpose in exploring space should transcend focusing on how it will benefit humanity. We should ask how to create a symbiotic relationship with the universe, giving back as much as we take, and spreading life, intelligence, and self-awareness throughout the solar system and beyond.
In The Cosma Hypothesis, White argues that developing a philosophy of space exploration and settlement is more than an intellectual exercise: it will powerfully influence policy and practices that are unfolding now, as governments and corporations talk about space tourism, asteroid mining, and cities on Mars.
The Cosma Hypothesis is White’s contribution to a dialogue that will, it is hoped, become global in scope.