Technology December 15, 2011
VIDEO OF THE DAY: The Speed of Light

What's faster than a speeding bullet? The movement of light through space is one very obvious example, a point made clear in a new video released by researchers at MIT's MediaLab, in which they reveal technology that allows them to capture the image of light in motion.

In the video, MIT associate professor Ramash Raskar recalls a celebrated image that shows the passage of a bullet through an apple. The impressive photo was only made possible by the development of a camera with a shutter speed fast enough to capture it. What would it take to capture the trajectory of a photon, which travels up to a million times faster than a fired bullet?

Raskar and his colleagues have come up with the answer, a camera that can shoot a frame in less than one trillionth of a second. By sequencing a series of these images (and using lasers, of course) the researchers have been able to develop a video of particles of light as they move through space - or in this case, a Coke bottle:

The speed of light is popularly understood to be the fastest possible speed at which anything in the universe can travel - although that depends on having light move through a vacuum, not a Coke bottle, and doesn't account for recent work at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland that suggests sub-atomic particles known as neutrinos may in fact be able to travel fractionally faster.

Still, seeing the movement of light through space is pretty cool, and is all the more so when watching the full clip from MIT, in which Raskar and his colleague Andreas Veltern explain what went into their project:

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