Light moves fast — like really fast. 299,792,458 meters per second in a vacuum, to be exact. Capturing it might seem like a pipe dream, but one MIT professor has done it by doing something remarkable: creating a camera that shoots at 1 trillion frames per second.
You thought your 1D X Mark II or D5 was fast? You ain't seen nothing yet. Ramesh Raskar has created an incredible camera and technique he calls "Femto Photography," in which a laser fires pulses that last less than a trillionth of a second every 13 nanoseconds. Each pulse lights the scene, and through catching many narrow horizontal exposures and some mathematical reconstruction, a 2D movie of about 480 frames is created, each frame having an exposure of less than 2 picoseconds (trillionths of a second). Even light itself only travels 0.6mm in that time.
The result is something remarkable: you can watch a pulse of light as it moves. It's so fast that something bizarre sometimes happens: it appears that events happen in reverse order. This is because the camera sees events so quickly that the varying distances the light must travel from different spots in the frame to the sensor is no longer negligible, requiring corrections to be made in the final image. It turns out that this technique has some very interesting possibilities, including anything from seeing around corners to less invasive medical imaging. Check out the video above to see the results.