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Hidden miracles of the natural world

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    What is the intersection
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    between technology, art, and science?
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    Curiosity and wonder,
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    because it drives us to explore,
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    because we're surrounded by things we can't see.
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    And I love to use film
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    to take us on a journey
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    through portals of time and space,
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    to make the invisible visible,
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    because what that does,
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    it expands our horizons,
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    it transforms our perception,
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    it opens our minds
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    and it touches our heart.
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    So here are some scenes
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    from my 3D IMAX film
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    "Mysteries of the Unseen World."
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    (Music)
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    There is movement which is too slow
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    for our eyes to detect,
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    and timelapse makes us discover
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    and broaden our perspective of life.
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    We can see how organisms emerge and grow,
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    how a vine survives by creeping from the forest floor
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    to look at the sunlight.
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    And at the grand scale,
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    time lapse allows us to see our planet in motion.
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    We can view not only the vast sweep of nature,
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    but the restless movement of humanity.
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    Each streaking dot represents a passenger plane,
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    and by turning air traffic data
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    into time lapse imagery,
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    we can see something that's above us constantly
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    but invisible:
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    the vast network of air travel over the United States.
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    We can do the same thing with ships at sea.
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    We can turn data into a time lapse view
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    of a global economy in motion.
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    And decades of data
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    give us the view of our entire planet
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    as a single organism
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    sustained by currents circulating
    throughout the oceans
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    and by clouds swirling through the atmosphere,
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    pulsing with lightning,
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    crowned by the aurora borealis.
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    It may be the ultimate time-lapsed image:
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    the anatomy of Earth brought to life.
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    At the other extreme,
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    there are things that move too fast for our eyes,
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    but we have technology that can look into that world
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    as well.
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    With high-speed cameras,
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    we can do the opposite of time lapse.
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    We can shoot images that are thousands of times
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    faster than our vision.
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    And we can see how nature's
    ingenious devices work,
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    and perhaps we can even imitate them.
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    When a dragonfly flutters by,
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    you may not realize,
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    but it's the greatest flyer in nature.
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    It can hover, fly backwards,
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    even upside down.
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    And by tracking markets on an insect's wings,
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    we can visualize the air flow that they produce.
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    Nobody knew the secret,
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    but high speed shows that a dragonfly
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    can move all four wings in different directions
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    at the same time.
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    And what we learn can lead us
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    to new kinds of robotic flyers
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    that can expand our vision
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    of important and remote places.
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    We're giants, and we're unaware
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    of things that are too small for us to see.
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    The electron microscope fires electrons
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    which creates images
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    which can magnify things by as much
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    as a million times.
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    This is the egg of a butterfly.
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    And there are unseen creatures
    living all over your body,
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    including mites which spend their entire lives
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    dwelling on your eyelashes,
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    crawling over your skin at night.
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    Can you guess what this is?
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    Shark skin.
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    A caterpillar's mouth.
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    The eye of a fruit fly.
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    An eggshell.
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    A flea.
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    A snail's tongue.
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    We think we know most of the animal kingdom,
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    but there may be millions of tiny species
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    waiting to be discovered.
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    A spider also has great secrets,
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    because spider's silk thread is pound for pound
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    stronger than steel
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    but completely elastic.
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    This journey will take us all the way down
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    to the nano world.
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    The silk is a hundred times thinner
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    than human hair.
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    On there is bacteria,
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    and near that bacteria, ten times smaller,
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    a virus.
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    Inside of that, ten times smaller,
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    three strands of DNA,
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    and nearing the limit of our
    most powerful microscopes,
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    single carbon atoms.
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    With the tip of a powerful microscope,
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    we can actually move atoms
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    and begin to create amazing nano devices.
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    Some could one day patrol our body
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    for all kinds of diseases
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    and clean up clogged arteries along the way.
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    Tiny chemical machines of the future
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    can one day, perhaps, repair DNA.
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    We are on the threshold of extraordinary advances,
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    born of our drive
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    to unveil the mysteries of life.
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    So under an endless rain of cosmic dust,
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    the air is full of pollen,
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    micro-diamonds and jewels from other planets,
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    and supernova explosions.
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    People go about their lives
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    surrounded by the unseeable.
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    Knowing that there's so much around us
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    we can see
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    forever changes our understanding of the world,
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    and by looking at unseen worlds, we recognize
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    that we exist in the living universe,
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    and this new perspective creates wonder
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    and inspires us to become explorers
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    in our own backyards.
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    Who knows what awaits to be seen
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    and what new wonders will transform our lives.
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    We'll just have to see.
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    (Applause)
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    Thank you. (Applause)
Title:
Hidden miracles of the natural world
Speaker:
Louie Schwartzberg
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
07:24
  • Correction:
    Knowing that there's so much around us we can see
    #-> we can't see

  • The English transcript was updated on 5/1/2015.

English subtitles

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