I was taking a lovely constitutional around the halls of MIT a few weeks back (and let me tell you, that place is BIG– check it out)…
Anyhoo, I came upon an exhibit showcasing the stroboscopic work of Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton, who was an MIT professor for years. You’ve probably seen these pictures; the strobe allowed Doc to capture very minute moments in time.
But have you see these? These I had not seen.
At first I couldn’t tell what they were. Blobby… scary.
They were taken by Doc with his Rapatropic camera in 1952. At an atomic test site in Nevada.
Wikipedia tells us more:
The camera was developed by Harold Edgerton in the 1940s and was first used to photograph the rapidly-changing matter in nuclear explosions within milliseconds of ignition. To overcome the speed limitation of a conventional camera’s mechanical shutter, the rapatronic camera uses two polarizing filters and a Kerr cell.The two filters are mounted with their polarization angles at 90° toeach other, to block all incoming light. The Kerr cell between thefilters, which changes the polarization of light passing through itwhen energized, acts as shutter when it is energized at the right timefor a very short amount of time, allowing the film to be properlyexposed.
For a film-like sequence of high-speed photographs, as used in the photography of nuclear and thermonuclear tests, arrays of up to 12 cameras were deployed, with each camera carefully timed to record a different time frame.
HOLY KERPLOSION, batman.