Sunday, August 15, 2010

A World We Never See

Our perception of the world is limited, of course, by the resolving power of our senses. What we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel forms the boundary of our experience of the "real world". We can extend it by thinking, but, given the data we have that can often mean creating something entirely notional rather than something "real" in the way that we consider sense data "real".

Occasionally, we come across something that demonstrates how we, as humans, are working with extremely poor data when we rely on our senses. If the goal is "objectivity" we are hopeless. Objectivity is a pursuit, if it is even possible, which requires infinitely detailed data of an an infinite variety, and taking it all into account at once.

This video demonstrates the gap between what "is" and what we perceive rather dramatically. I never would have guessed at what it shows. Shot at 9000 frames per second it reveals to our eyes what they would otherwise never be able to see. For me, it is allegorical. It's also really cool even if you don't want to ponder its epistemic implications. Watch it on YouTube for the full impact.

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