In 1964 MIT professor Harold Edgerton, pioneer of stop-action photography, famously took a photo of a bullet piercing an apple using exposures as short as a few nanoseconds. He also took pictures of a drop of milk dropping onto a hard surface and caught the gravitational and other forces at work in a photo that still looks beautiful today.
Inspired by Edgerton’s work, Ramesh Raskar and his team set out to create a camera that could capture not just a bullet (traveling at 850 meters per second) but light itself (nearly 300 million meters per second).
Ramesh and his team built a camera and software that can visualize pictures as if they are recorded at 1 trillion frames per second. Not only that, the same photon-imaging technology can also be used to create a camera that takes pictures round corners by exploiting specific properties of the photons when they bounce off surfaces and objects.
Ramesh Raskar presents femto-photography in the video below; a new type of imaging that is so fast it visualizes the world one trillion frames per second and is so detailed it shows light itself in motion. This technology may someday be able to see inside the body without X-rays.
Here’s the video:Raskar video
Raskar is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology associate professor and head of the Institute’s Media Lab Camera Culture Research group. He holds over 40 US patents.