The Nothing and Everything Effect is a moment of realization that occurs from staring directly into stars.
The phenomenon was first recognized by observatory worker, Cassandra Pia in 1981. According to Pia, she was working one late night at the Flick Observatory in San Jose, California. After locking up the facility, Pia was walking to her car when she noticed the sky was especially clear that night, exposing thousands of bright stars. Pia described as she was gazing into Proxima Centauri, Earth's closest star, that she suddenly had a moment of realization. What is more, Pia explains The Nothing and Everything Effect originated from this experience, and this was how she explained her thinking:
Space is measured in units of time (light years) as opposed to actual distance (miles). A light year is equivalent to the distance light travels in one year. To consider, imagine how fast light travels from a flick of a switch then image how far that flicker can travel in one year. As mentioned earlier, Earth's closest star, Proxima Centauri is 4.24 light years away. When compared to the average lifespan of an adult, say rounded to 100-years for simplicity, 100-years of 4.24 light years is not much more than a blip in time.
As Pia was staring into Proxima Centauri she realized what she was really seeing was light traveling back to her from 4.24 light years from its origin. All this made her feel very small and insignificant, and at the same time, made her feel like she was somehow part of some larger, grand design. Pia called her experience, The Nothing and Everything Effect.