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16 December 2011

Capturing video at the speed of light — one trillion frames per second

More in our "Seeing the Unseeable" series 

Uploaded by on Dec 12, 2011
MIT Media Lab researchers have created a new imaging system that can acquire visual data at a rate of one trillion frames per second. That's fast enough to produce a slow-motion video of light traveling through objects. Video: Melanie Gonick.
Read more: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/trillion-fps-camera-1213.html
Project website: http://www.media.mit.edu/~raskar/trillionfps/

On the Project's web page, you'll find this video, and more explanations.

Uploaded by on Dec 11, 2011
We have built an imaging solution that allows us to visualize propagation of light at an effective rate of one trillion frames per second. Direct recording of light at such a frame rate with sufficient brightness is nearly impossible. We use an indirect 'stroboscopic' method that combines millions of repeated measurements by careful scanning in time and viewpoints.
The device has been developed by the MIT Media Lab's Camera Culture group in collaboration with Bawendi Lab in the Department of Chemistry at MIT. A laser pulse that lasts less than one trillionth of a second is used as a flash and the light returning from the scene is collected by a camera at a rate equivalent to roughly 1 trillion frames per second. However, due to very short exposure times (roughly one trillionth of a second) and a narrow field of view of the camera, the video is captured over several minutes by repeated and periodic sampling.
For more info visit http://raskar.info/trillionfps
Music: "Rising" by Kevin MacLeod (http://music.incompetech.com/royaltyfree2/Rising.mp3)

In a story in the New York Times about this project, John Markoff writes

"More than 70 years ago, the M.I.T. electrical engineer Harold (Doc) Edgerton began using strobe lights to create remarkable photographs: a bullet stopped in flight as it pierced an apple, the coronet created by the splash of a drop of milk...

"(In this current project) To create a movie of the event, the researchers record about 500 frames in just under a nanosecond, or a billionth of a second. Because each individual movie has a very narrow field of view, they repeat the process a number of times, scanning it vertically to build a complete scene that shows the beam moving from one end of the bottle, bouncing off the cap and then scattering back through the fluid. If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years. 

" “You can think of it as slow motion,” Andreas Velten, a postdoctoral researcher who is a member of the design team, said during a recent technical presentation. “It is so much slow motion you can see the light itself move. This is the speed of light: there’s nothing in the universe that moves faster.”"

Read the whole story on the New York Times web page, and then watch the video below, pretending that each little sequence (egg, milk, apple, ketchup, water bottle, mellon, takes 3 years to watch...that's 18 years you're about to spend here....if you had started watching the day you were born, you would be out of secondary school (high school, gymnasium) before your the video had ended.


Thanks to Open Culture for the heads-up.