Mysteries of the Unseen World
Filmmaker, Louie Schwartzberg, takes us on a path to broad knowledge, as we explore his documentary film Mysteries of the Unseen World and additional scientific discoveries that describe our traditional five senses.
If you have seen the documentary film, you would have learned that the vast majority of the physical world around you, you cannot see, feel, touch, hear or smell given that its energy is either too small, too far, too quick, too slow or invisible. To uncover the unseen physical world, we rely on scientific instruments that are well calibrated to capture moments in time and these new visuals often have a profound impact on the way we perceive nature.
Growing up, we have become familiar with our traditional five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch – but are these the only ways to describe the world, to advance our knowledge and to explore reality? The answer to this question is of profound importance and taking this critical path of investigation is essential to humanity’s progress.
It turns out many organisms, including humans, have more than five senses, taking different forms and important qualities. But – before we take you beyond our five senses, let’s first investigate the limitations of human sight and hearing, as described in the documentary film, Mysteries of the Unseen World, and also explore a fascinating new discovery about our sense of smell. This will certainly spark your imagination towards a new outlook on the world.
Senses are commonly defined as: “A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon, and that correspond to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.” Of note, all senses have a related sensory organ.
Sight – The “Visible” Spectrum
Eyes are the organs of vision. They focus and detect images of visible light on photoreceptors in the retina of each eye that then generate electrical nerve impulses to the brain. The typical human eye is only capable of observing light at wavelengths between 390 and 750 nanometers and can distinguish between 2.3 and 7.5 million colors, which is called visible light. 
However, calling it the “visible” spectrum is a flaw in our scientific language because plenty of animals can see light outside our narrow band. And, relative to the entire light spectrum, the human eye captures only a very small fraction of the total band. As such, your eyesight is very limited and there are many electromagnetic waves of a wavelength that you cannot see.
Technologies offer scientific explorers a thrilling new look into long-hidden worlds, allowing viewers to see things not visible to the naked eye. Using high-speed, time-lapse photography and electron microscopy one can peer into the invisible realms of things that are moving too fast, too slow or are simply too small to see. 
To discover more about worlds hidden from human sight, we highly recommend you check out Louie Schwartzberg Mysteries of the Unseen World by National Geographic that plays at IMAX theaters worldwide. We provide a trailer and TED talk video of the film below. Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, who specializes in shooting time-lapse videos, directs the film. We also encourage you to visit Schwartzberg’s personal website at movingart.com. He is always up to something spectacular.
The ear is the sensory organ that detects sound. For humans, hearing is normally limited to frequencies between about 20 nd 20,000 Hz.  However – as compared to many other species, our hearing ability is very limited.
For example, let’s consider two animals that we will discuss in this book: elephants and dolphins. We know that elephants can hear the faintest sound and can hear well-below infrasound (20 Hz), while dolphins hear well-above ultrasound (up to 200,000 Hz).  
Meanwhile, dolphins are not only richer in higher harmonics but also their range of sonic frequencies. Most human voice sounds range is between about 100 and 10,000 Hz whereas a dolphin’s sounds range is anywhere between 100 and 150,000 Hz. That’s fifteen times greater than human abilities.
In fact, it’s very likely that most of our favorite animals communicate in sound frequencies that are outside our hearing range.
Smell – a Major Discovery
The nose is the sensory organ of smell. On March 21, 2014, a team of scientists led by geneticist Leslie Vosshall of Rockefeller University in New York City, systematically tested an almost 100-year-old claim that humans could only discriminate 10,000 odors and instead discovered that our sensory organ of smell could recognize more than 1 trillion odors. That’s a big difference and provides a new outlook to understanding the world. These findings not only describe a human olfactory system that outperforms the other senses but it made us wonder how the mainstream scientific community got the previous estimation so wrong.
“We know exactly the range of sound frequencies that people can hear, not because someone made it up, but because it was tested. We didn’t just make up the fact that humans can’t see infrared or ultraviolet light. Somebody took the time to test it,” Vosshall says. “For smell, nobody ever took the time to test.”
Per se, the saying that one should stop and smell the roses may in fact have a more literal meaning. The results were published in a report in the journal Science, and were conducted on the basis of the results of psychophysical testing. ,
Beyond The Five Senses
Our ability to detect other stimuli beyond those governed by the traditional senses exists, including temperature (thermoception), pain (nociception), balance (equilibrioception), and various other external and internal stimuli.
Additionally, magnetoreception and electroreception are being investigated as human senses
If you love Louie Schwartzberg Mysteries of the Unseen World film, we invite you to check out our extremely well-reviewed book, which expands on these concepts. Check it out Conceptual Revolutions in Science by Adam B. Dorfman.