MIT researchers capture the speed of light on camera


The speed of light is incredibly fast. So fast, in fact, that it’s the universal speed limit, and according to Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, nothing can travel faster.

In a vacuum, light’s value is exactly 299,792,458 meters per second, or approximately 186,000 miles per second. To provide some perspective, our sun is just over eight light minutes from earth. The light that we experience warming our faces is eight minutes old.

This also explains why the stars and galaxies we observe through a telescope may no longer exist. What astronomers see through their telescopes are stars and galaxies millions (and sometimes billions) of light years away; they are essentially looking into the past.

Using an advanced camera system that allows one trillion exposures per second, MIT researchers have successfully captured individual photons of light. What you are seeing in the picture below is a partially illuminated bottle with photons of light passing by.

Image credit: MIT

Image credit: MIT

Thanks to a little ingenuity and a camera system that allows an astounding amount of exposures per second, we are now able to capture photons of light from a light source before the light reaches and illuminates the rest of an object.

In the following video, watch not only how this technological feat has been accomplished, but also the speed of light slowed down, frame by frame. Enjoy!



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A self-taught writer with some college (a nice way of saying that he didn't graduate), Nate fell in love with pocket billiards in his mid teens, and has spent more than half of his life as a student of the sport. Yes, it's a sport. He will argue incessantly if someone claims otherwise. He also loves video games, his favorite game being Dark Souls, followed by Dark Souls as a close second, and The Last of Us being his fourth favorite game (Dark Souls is his third favorite game). He has a tendency to ramble on when you strike up a conversation with him, so asking him for a short bio is a dangerously boring proposition and not recommended. Otherwise he tends to keep to himself. He is also an editor and founding member of Tech Gen Mag, living in southern California.

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