AsianScientist (Aug. 10, 2016) – Nobody needs a wardrobe to get to Narnia. Instead, what one really needs is an electron microscope, an excellent music soundtrack and, of course, Southeast Asia’s largest seamless dome screen theater.
Science Centre Singapore Omni-Theatre’s latest film, Mysteries of the Unseen World, invites audiences into a mysterious realm, where the visually-magnified scales on a morpho butterfly’s wings reveal the secrets behind one of the most brilliant blues in nature.
Previously, only scientists could unlock these remarkable visuals using sophisticated laboratory equipment. By combining cutting edge technology with powerful narratives, the National Geographic film offers the rest of us a glimpse into nature at the nanoscale, into a world that we are typically not privy to.
Tiny world, big opportunities
In his classic 1959 talk, Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman famously challenged his audience with the following question, “Why cannot we write the entire 24 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the head of a pin?” By assembling a visual feast in Mysteries of the Unseen World, director Louie Schwartzberg suggests that it is well within human capability to manipulate materials at the nanoscale.
Schwartzberg’s decades-long experience in time-lapse cinematography shows in his work: Plant vines gracefully crawl from the forest floor up along sturdy tree trunks, while buds in a forest blossom into flowers of the deepest hues, all within a matter of seconds.
While watching this film, the viewer is starkly reminded that nothing is static, not even in death. The film captures how a decomposing mouse provides nutrients for life to flourish, nourishing simple lifeforms such as a slime mold.
And to sweeten the immersive viewing experience, the Omni-Theatre’s dome screen appears to envelop the viewer in the surroundings of a forest, while uplifting music from its surround sound system washes calmly over the audience.
Beauty under the microscope
Creators of Mysteries of the Unseen World have expertly struck a fine balance between education and entertainment. The film is both fast-paced and exciting, and not once does it feel like one is struggling to survive a boring science lecture.
The film draws in its young audiences with an explosion of stunning visuals, including the clever use of computer animation to bring still images of nanoparticles to life. To appeal to a general audience, it frames its narratives with references to pop culture. Dragonflies, for instance, have ‘superpowers’ that allow them to move each of their four wings independently, earning them the title of being ‘the greatest fliers in nature.’
The educational aspect of the documentary will appeal to all ages and backgrounds. Even science professionals will appreciate how the film imparts knowledge while reveling in Nature’s profound beauty.
And more than a stark reminder of the limitations of our senses, Mysteries of the Unseen World sends a strong message of hope for the future, borne of advancements in technology—from using gold nanoparticles in humanity’s battle against cancer, to mimicking structures in animals to craft powerful machinery.
Asian Scientist Magazine is a media partner of Science Centre Singapore for the film Mysteries of the Unseen World. Admission costs SGD$14 per person, and tickets may be purchased here.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.