excerpt from the archives of science & religion today, with pictures from David Stephenson's heavenly vaults:
"Researchers studying awe, an emotional state closely linked to transcendence, believe that a key trigger is a sense of vastness. Encountering objects or spaces that are extremely large in scale, from Ayer’s Rock to the Grand Canyon, stimulates what psychologists call a need for accommodation — a need to take this new experience and fit it into our existing mental models, stretching them in the process. As our mental models struggle to accommodate the power behind works of great scale (both natural and manmade), we feel smaller by comparison. Our focus broadens, which effectively minimizes our daily preoccupations."