The Scientific Aesthetic: Images That Can't Be Seen With the Naked Eye

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"Technology has allowed us to overcome the boundaries of human perception."

New technologies have given way to new forms of vision -- to images that we are able to capture, and perceive, only with the help of external aids. These scientifically mediated pictures, whether viewed through microscope or telescope, form their own kind of aesthetic category: the image that is both an artistic object and a source of information. They inform even as they inspire. 

The video above, the latest installment of PBS's fantastic Off Book series, explores those images -- up close, and from afar. Here's a description, via Boing Boing:

This piece explores the beautiful imagery that has been uncovered thanks to modern technology. Because of advancements made in photomicrography, astrophotography, high-speed and stop-motion photography, we're now able to see the world (and galaxy) as we never have before.

It's our curiosity and thirst for the unknown that has driven us to uncover the beauty of the universe. Technology has allowed us to overcome the boundaries of human perception and explore beyond the limits of the naked eye. Told through the voices of scientists and artists, this video illustrates how size and distance are no longer barriers, and how through innovation we see the universe, time, and humanity in a new light. 

And in a new focus, as well. The video gives us access to images that older generations of humans couldn't have imagined, much less actually seen. The pictures invite us into a new realm of imagination -- one guided not only by what's within us, but also by what stretches beyond us.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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