Monday, July 20, 2015

The Science of Out-of-Body and Near-Death Experiences

By Steven Kotler / Excerpt from

The whole "let's go jump out of an airplane" concept had been dreamed up at a Friday night party, but now I was Saturday-morning sober and somehow still going skydiving.

To make matters worse, this was in 1984, and while tandem skydiving was invented in 1977, the concept had yet to make its way to the airfield in mid-Ohio where I had wound up.

So my first jump wasn't done with an instructor tethered to my back handling any difficulties we might encounter. Instead, I jumped alone 2,000 feet, my only safety net an unwieldy old Army parachute, dubbed a "round."

Thankfully, nobody expected me to pull my own rip cord. A static line, nothing fancier than a short rope, had been fixed between my rip cord and the floor of the airplane. If everything went according to plan, 15 feet from the plane, when I reached the end of my rope, it would tug open the chute. Getting to this point was more complicated.

As the plane flew along at 100 miles per hour, I had to clamber out a side door, ignore the vertiginous view, step onto a small metal rung, hold onto the plane's wing with both hands, and lift one leg behind me, so that my body formed a giant T. From this position, when my instructor gave the order, I was to jump. If all this wasn't bad enough, when I finally leaped out of the plane, I also leaped out of my body.

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