Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Really ridiculously fast camera. Like a trillion frames per second.

Marc Sanchez Dec 13, 2011

Is a new camera on your holiday wish list? Maybe a DSLR with 14.1 megapixel capability? That would be pretty cool, unless you happen to be one of the scientists at M.I.T. who is showing off a fancy new camera that can snap pictures faster THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT! Megapixels be damned!

The New York Times reports that the scientists “are using an ultrafast imaging system to capture light itself as it passes through liquids and objects, in effect snapping a picture in less than two-trillionths of a second.” With help from the fellas in the chemistry lab, professor Ramesh Raskar managed the process by using a modified “streak tube,” an instrument “fast enough to record the progress of packets of laser light fired repeatedly into a bottle filled with a cloudy fluid.” The pictures create mini-movies showing the progress of light through a scene.

Raskar imagines all sorts of applications for this process. Besides being pretty cool on its own accord, light pictures could help with portable CAT scans and even help you choose a better piece of fruit.

Fruit? I’ll let Raskar explain: “Imagine if you have this in your phone about 10 years from now,” he said. “You will be able to go to your supermarket and tell if your fruit is ripe.”




News and information you need, from a source you trust.

In a world where it’s easier to find disinformation than real information, trustworthy journalism is critical to our democracy and our everyday lives. And you rely on Marketplace to be that objective, credible source, each and every day.

This vital work isn’t possible without you. Marketplace is sustained by our community of Investors—listeners, readers, and donors like you who believe that a free press is essential – and worth supporting.

Stand up for independent news—become a Marketplace Investor today with a donation in any amount.