Visualizing video at the speed of light — one trillion frames per second
By now, most of you have probably seen mention of this video, where MIT scientists have created a camera that visualizes light at a trillion frames per second. In my moments of “wow face”, I realized I was remiss in not offering up an explainer of this bad-ass technology.
The MIT group does a pretty good job of detailing what’s going on in the video above, but if you need more:
The special camera in their setup is called a “streak camera”. Picture a camera that takes an image on one “slit” plane at a time, sort of like a stack of lines eventually becoming a rectangle. Then, there are 500 individual sensors in the camera timed to go off a trillionth of a second apart., each sort of corresponding to what we would think of as a “frame” of a video.
In that video, every “frame” of the Coke bottle with light moving through it was one-trillionth of a second. They had to repeat the scan hundreds of times to assemble a full “rectangular” image like we are used to, changing the position of the slit in the camera over time.
The result is a series of images over time that show how actual light particles move through and over a solid object. It’s slow, but the possibilities are many, from medical imaging to future YouTube video awesomeness.