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IMAGE: ISS Science Officer Don Pettit
ISS Science Officer Don Pettit works inside the Zarya Control Module.
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Don Pettit Space Chronicles

Expedition Six
Space Chronicles #10

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By: ISS Science Officer Don Pettit

Living in Weightlessness

How might the minds of humans differ from the social norm if they were to be raised from birth in 0g? A weightless environment presents a true three-dimensional setting where Newton's laws of motion prevail over Earth-honed intuition. Friction for objects sitting on tabletops distorts the true nature of the laws of motion and thus warps our intuition. We normally think in terms of two dimensions when we move from place to place. However in orbit, one mightdecide the best way is to go across the ceiling and then sit on the wall. If you lose something in weightlessness, you instinctively look down, which of course is not the solution. What intuitive behaviors would spawn from being raised in weightlessness and how might this change your methods of thinking and problem solving? For people who will be raised in orbit, I speculate that their thinking perspective will be different, their way of processing three dimensions -- hence, their thoughts and methods of solving complex problems. Creativity will certainly be more three-dimensional and definitely thinking will be out of the gravitational box. Like the way culture and language influences your ability to creatively think and the kinds of problems you choose to tackle, being free from gravity will entice thoughts never before possible for the human mind. Perhaps the next revolutions in scientific discovery will have to wait until humanity steps out of its cradle and expands into space.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 05/13/2003
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