Agile and powerful flyers, dragonflies are able to migrate across oceans. In flight, an adult dragonfly can propel itself in six directions and change course suddenly: upward, downward, forward, backward, to left and to right. ©John T. Andrews

Agile and powerful flyers, dragonflies are able to migrate across oceans and propel themselves in six directions: upward, downward, forward, backward, to the left and to the right. ©John T. Andrews

Big, charismatic fauna and the large terrains and environments they live in—such as polar bears in the Arctic and whales in the world’s oceans—are always captivating. However, we sometimes forget that there are other natural “worlds” out there that are just as enthralling; ones that are too fast, too slow or too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Recent advances in technology are beginning to reveal these worlds to us. Electron microscopy and high-speed and time-lapse photography are just a few of the developments that are now allowing us to see a universe of creatures and natural phenomena we never knew existed. In 2013, National Geographic Entertainment used such techniques to produce a 3-D, IMAX documentary titled Mysteries of the Unseen World. The film—which slows down, speeds up and magnifies the astonishing wonders of nature—focuses on the events that go on about us every day and gives us a taste of what it would be like to have X-ray and infrared vision.

High-speed and time-lapse photography allow us to see the natural world like never before. ©From the film “Mysteries of the Unseen World,” National Geographic Entertainment.

High-speed and time-lapse photography allow us to see the natural world like never before. ©From the film “Mysteries of the Unseen World,” National Geographic Entertainment.

For example, the small dragonfly is nature’s greatest flyer. It can hover, fly backwards, move all four wings in different directions at the same time and even fly upside down—maneuvers all depicted in the film. By being able to now see and study a dragonfly’s motions, we may one day be able to apply those methodologies to new kinds of robotic flyers, which could expand our vision of important and remote places.

In the 2014, seven-minute TED Talk below, Mysteries of the Unseen World’s director, Louie Schwartzberg, shares some of the film’s highlights. He hopes that viewing it will create wonder and inspire us to become explorers in our own backyards.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,

Candy