Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Mysteries of the Unseen World" from NatGeo: 3-D science class for middle schoolers

The National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian, the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater, is showing “Mysteries of the Unseen World”, directed by Louie Schwartzberg, in 3-D, from National Geographic.

The documentary focuses on things that are too small, too big, or happen too quickly or too slowly to be “seen” in a normal way.
Back in the 1950s, Disney created a sensation with “time-lapse photography” showing how flowers bloom.  The same concept could show how a baby matures into adulthood and how a handsome young adult ultimately, imperceptibly at first, ripens and matures and then frankly ages.
Much of the film concerned a typical family in a high-rise apartment, which appeared to be located in New Orleans. 

The “too small” portion showed how rain drops bounce as perfect spheres, progressively smaller, when they hit puddles.  It also showed the appearance of very small animals like mites and rotifers.  It traced the development of the compound microscope, which we all used in biology class in high school, and of the electron microscope.
But the most interesting sight in the film might be a 200-mile hypothetical elevator to space, ridden by a space-shuttle-like device, with views of Earth from the elevation of an orbiter, but with ordinary people as paying passengers.
The official site is here (NatGeo).

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