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MIT's New Camera Can Take 1 Trillion Frames Per Second 197

Posted by timothy
from the need-a-really-big-sd-card dept.
First time accepted submitter probain writes "MIT has made a camera that can take trillion frames per second! With this high speed capability, they can actually see the movement of photons of light across a scene or object. This is just mind-boggling." ExtremeTech has a nice video of the system, too. What would you like to see slowed down to such a degree?
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MIT's New Camera Can Take 1 Trillion Frames Per Second

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  • Wish to see? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unixcrab (1080985) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:53AM (#38354408)
    1. The electron beam scanning in a CRT. 2. Inside a cylinder of an internal combustion engine. 3. A lightning strike (too difficult maybe)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:54AM (#38354426)

    played back at 24fps, it would take over 1,000 years to watch 1 second of video captured at 1,000,000,000,000fps.

  • Re:What (Score:4, Interesting)

    by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:04AM (#38354540) Homepage Journal

    Well they can, just not individual photons or individual photon events.
    It's exactly the same as an oscilloscope -- you also don't see the shape of an individual pulse. You under-sample, and then add the samples together assuming it was always the same pulse.

  • Streak cameras (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:08AM (#38354584)

    Streak cameras have been around for decades. They take a one dimensional source of light, and sweep it across a 2D detector very quickly so that the second dimension gives you the time resolution much shorter than the exposure time used by the sensor. Streak cameras with time resolution in picoseconds is pretty common, and many have sub-picosecond resolution. The problem is that once the a light source is swept across the camera, you are limited by the time it takes to read and reset the sensor before you can repeat the process, giving you the same repetition rate as high speed 2D cameras. So you might have 100 fs time resolution, but it would be one dimensional, and only last for 100 ps, before having to wait a few microseconds to milliseconds to take another image (there are some tricks to get two images given one sensor before reading it, and some high end cameras will just have multiple sensors in parallel to get faster successive images).

    The novelty here seems not to be the camera, but the use of a laser for illumination and the stitching of many 1D images taken over an hour or so together into one 2D image.

  • Re:What (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:09AM (#38354588)

    they can actually see the movement of photons of light across a scene or object

    ...no.

    Sure you can. I've seen the nuke test footage. I'm not talking about the stereotypical "wind gust front" but actual "light" output. The first few frames are classified and I have not seen them, because they show asymmetries that imply various things about internal construction, but once the fireball gets a couple feet across its pretty much perfectly spherical and that's the unclassified frames I've seen. If there were a useful way to search youtube / google / archive.org for a description like this, I'd give you a link to the actual movie. You can distinctly see the disk of light hit the ground and expand very rapidly circularly underneath the slowly growing fireball, well, slowly growing compared to the speed of light, anyway. There are not many frames to this "movie" probably synchronization of the cameras and the "bang" was harder back in the 50s. The footage is many decades old.

    I believe the relevant part of the story is this might be the first "trillion fps" camera that isn't classified and is owned by "civilians"

  • *sigh* (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:09AM (#38354596)

    I don't know why they try to make these discoveries accessible to the layman. They can't explain it right, the ignorant can't understand it right and the expert facepalms before the masses while they diminish an amazing creation solely because it does not do what they think it should do even though they don't know what the hell it really does.

  • Re:What (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:12AM (#38354614)

    Well they can, just not individual photons or individual photon events.
    It's exactly the same as an oscilloscope -- you also don't see the shape of an individual pulse. You under-sample, and then add the samples together assuming it was always the same pulse.

    Only with digital scopes. With analog that's exactly how it works, you can, if you want, see literally one pulse. Not much analog scopes on professional desktops anymore... they're all on hardware hackers basement desks now, like mine. Thats why I bring it up, on average across /. readership there are probably more analog scope users than digital scope users. That would make an interesting /. poll,
    1) I use an analog scope
    2) I use a digital scope
    3) Cowboy Neal is a my scope
    4) Whats an oscilloscope?

  • Re:Wish to see? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jaqenn (996058) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:16AM (#38354646)
    Tim Samaras is a storm researcher who has captured lightning strikes at 10,000 frames per second:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyUsjsJ-E0c [youtube.com]

    It's not 1,000,000,000,000 FPS, but it's still pretty cool.
  • Re:What (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:32AM (#38354812)

    If you have a rare and expensive quad channel scope, watch the TX and RX, AND the hardware control lines and have fun telling them how fast their interrupt service routines are, this used to completely freak out OS/device driver developers (so... you mean you just look on a scope, instead of hand counting theoretical instructions?)

    I will admit you are correct, if you have way too much money you can buy direct non undersampling digital scopes. Or I suppose if you're only monitoring audio speed signals or whatever.

  • Re:What (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @12:02PM (#38355944)

    Then once you see the person aiming their "LIDAR" at you, you swivel the tank's gun and send some high-velocity non-photonic matter their way... Probably the most effective countermeasure.

    I detect an economic problem when the cost of a dumb "transmit only" laser diode and microcontroller to pulse it costs less than cannon round. A tactical problem if you build a "tank detector" fortification using a dazzler in a safe area (nothing important downrange of it) and an anti-tank team preposition along a flank of the dazzler's LOS, the big boom from the tank wakes up the sleeping opfor anti-tank team who promptly make an even bigger boom outta the tank... Also a tactical problem if your tank only carries 40 odd rounds and the opfor issues a clip on dazzler decoy device to a couple hundred infantry escorting like two real live opfor tanks, hmm which do I pop odds are only 1 in 100. I suppose you pop the two big thermal plumes, but still the freak out factor must count for something, maybe combined with other surprises...

    20 yrs ago I worked on the logistical computer systems for ammo in the USAR so I know those shells are quite expensive, and I do stuff with cheap microcontrollers and some laser diode stuff now, so I know I can build a decoy for maybe 1/10 the cost of a shell.

  • Re:Wish to see? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Surt (22457) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @12:22PM (#38356234) Homepage Journal

    I know you're being funny, but just because I hope to correct this misconception in the long run:
    24 is not enough for everyone. The actual number required is closer to 240. That is the point at which not even the 99th percentile of eye responsiveness can detect the frames, and perceive instead smooth motion.

  • Re:Wish to see? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @02:38PM (#38358160) Journal

    1. The electron beam scanning in a CRT. 2. Inside a cylinder of an internal combustion engine. 3. A lightning strike (too difficult maybe)

    A cumshot.

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