Aug 19, 2010

Out of Body, Roger

I was there. But I, like, wasn't there. I was floating. I was looking at myself from outside of myself.

If it hasn't happened to you, it's likely happened to somebody you know. And whether or not you believe it, about one in ten people report having had one. "Out of body" experience, it's a dirty word in many circles. Which is perhaps why pilots call it "G-LOC" (gravity-induced loss of consciousness, pronounced "G-lock" not "glok"). Turns out this kind of experience (call it what you want) occurs quite frequently among fighter pilots. Producers Ann Heppermann and Kara Oehler bring us the story. We'll hear from pilots Tim Sestak, and Col. Dan Fulgham on what it's like to lose yourself, unfortunately for us skiddish passenger-types, while flying a plane. Finally we'll hear from Dr. James Whinnery, who simulates G-LOC by placing pilots in giant centrifuges. His research monitors their brain activity as they accelerate to speeds inducing this loss of consciousness. But Doc Whinnery isn't just a scientist, he's a subject. And his research has taken him to some surprising places.

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