This video from Xperia Studio very effectively conveys how data visualization can both leverage and challenge our conceptions of "reality." The night sky we've seen since childhood, like everything else we see, is just a tiny slice of the spectrum - only what we can perceive with our limited physiology. An app that lets us "see" otherwise invisible wavelengths is not merely a prosthesis that cleverly enhances our sensory perceptions, it's a tool to expand our worldview, by reminding us that what we see is only a limited subset of the whole: we could as easily see quite a different world, and quite a different night sky.
Full disclosure: I'm mad that I can't get this app for my iPhone! But if you're an Android user, you can try the free Invisible Universe app here.
If you can't get the app, you can still enjoy the video, which is really very pretty in the best "science-is-awesome" sense. Josh Peek nicely captures the addictive nature of research: "probably every six months or so, I get the sort of hair-standing-on end thrill of knowing something new about the universe that nobody else knows yet." Yes, I remember that feeling . . . except the things I discovered involved screwed-up mutant fruit fly neurons - not quite so awesome as galaxies and cosmic radiation and freaky supernovae. But I digress - how deliciously steampunky is that observatory wheel apparatus? And watch for the Darwin fish cameo! :)
From Xperia Studio.