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.”




As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.