Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Unseen

On a visit to the Great Lakes Science Center, in Cleveland, we watched an Omni-Max production of National Geographic's Mysteries of the Unseen, which focused on phenomena that we humans cannot observe without the aid of technology.  In addition to radiation that has wavelengths outside the range of our vision (i.e. ultraviolet, infrared and beyond), the film reviewed a wide range of natural creatures, structures and processes that are too small, too fast or too slow for us to observe (e.g. bacteria, lightning, the blooming of flowers) without microscopes or specialized cameras.

Indeed, the range of our vision is but a small fraction of the entire spectrum of radiation and the natural world that we observe is but a small proportion of the life forms and biologic processes that comprise the ecosystems of Planet Earth.  In other words, those ecosystems are far more complex than our superficial observations might lead us to believe.

The more we study the Universe and the more advanced our technology becomes, the more we realize the limitations of our knowledge and how much occurs beyond the range of our senses.  Ironically, those most willing to place faith in an unseen deity are often those least accepting of discoveries that modern technology has enabled.  After all, unseen complexity threatens their simplified view of life.