The impossibility of many in the mind of one (or something like that)


the_impossibility_of_many_in_the_mind_of_one_Louise_Downe_2013I’ve gone slightly obsessed by this picture lately. This is a picture of NASA mission central after the latest rover touched down on Mars.

Teams of hundreds of scientists spent years carefully crafting a remote laboratory that could survive the extreme conditions. They altered their body clocks so that they could operate it more efficiently, switched their language to talk about ‘sols’ rather than days. They did this all together, working as a team to explore Mars.

This is how their efforts were reported in the Scientist:

The rovers enjoy significant support in congress…

We live in a world where we think, act and make collectively. And yet we can’t seem to understand the world without singular authorship.

But how exactly would you describe the complexity involved in acting, thinking or even feeling something collectively? We don’t seem to have – at least in English – the language to talk about situations like this.

Our understanding of the world is largely controlled by words we use to describe it to others. What happens when we don’t have the words?