Cameras – they capture moments of our lives, and our imagination. And as technology progressed, so did the resolution of these captured images. Cameras today take such high quality pictures, some of their resolutions overshoot what our eyes discern as “photographic” resolution. However, Scientists at M.I.T. have taken photography in a new direction – improving not the resolution, but the speed of the camera. Ramesh Raskar and his team have created a camera that a trillion frames per second. He calls it femto-photography. How fast is a trillion frames per second, really? Watch the enlightening TED Talk here.
Raskar’s talk is exceptional at tying together concepts from all areas of science. Research in physics has told us how light behaves, while engineering knowledge was needed to build the camera. The enormous amount of data collected from the camera is interpreted by computer scientists and their computers. Femto-photography obviously required a lot of people with a lot of different knowledge to research this far, and Raskar calls out to the scientific community for more.
The applications are also diverse, and while the spy-like ability to see around corners sounds the most exciting, I can see impressive advancements in medicine for the future. Having a camera that doesn’t just record, but also interprets light sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, but it’s real today.
And for all the college students like myself who have studied Special Relativity in physics class, it is always wonderful to actually see the theories of Einstein at work, with our own eyes – see at 9:00. (The camera Raskar made is taking frames so near to the speed of light, we need to take relativity into account to have accurate photographs.) The pictures the camera makes are such an interesting and special way to look at the world. Aside from the important technology and medicine advances it will provide, femto-photography is beautiful.
If you haven’t already, watch the TED talk, and see the beauty for yourself.