Filming the Speed of Light at 10 Trillion FPS

By | January 29, 2020

Today, we’re at CalTech, because in a building
over there is a camera that absolutely
blows my mind. Now, we’ve filmed
at some very high frame rates. We’re talking up to
about half a million,
which is… – Not to be sniffed at.
– …serious frame rates. Their camera
puts ours to shame and does 10 trillion
frames per second. That’s 13 zeroes. For reference,
that is 20 million times faster than the fastest we’ve
ever filmed on this channel. And there’s not much
you can’t film with half a million
frames a second, but one of those things
is the speed of light. – Not a bad subject.
– No. – Let’s get in there.
– All right. Even the shoe cover
technology is cool. I kind of want one of these
at home, actually. – Just for people.
– All right, let’s go in, see what this CUP
is all about. – Nice to meet you.
– Man: Nice to see you. – How’s it going?
– Good. So, what’s actually– what are we doing here?
This looks all very complicated. Oh, this is the world’s
fastest camera. Oh, okay. Yeah. This is
the world’s fastest camera. There you go.
Just as easy as that. How big is
the actual camera part? I can show you. That big box
is the camera itself. And here is the optics
that we designed – to make the thing work.
– Very cool. A lot of times
in our YouTube comments, we get asked to film
the speed of light. And I have to always
reply to people letting them know
that the speed of light, it’s almost
incomprehensibly fast, and even our cameras,
under a million frames a second, will never see
anything like that. Is this camera capable
of filming the speed of light? Yeah, that’s basically
what we are gonna see. For the example
I’m going to show,
the light will move about the length
of this bottle. In time, how long
does it take for light
to start here and end here? It takes about
2,000 picoseconds. – That’s pretty quick. Yeah.
– Pretty quick. So for the audience,
it goes milliseconds,
microseconds… – Is it nano–
– …nanoseconds, – picoseconds, femtoseconds.
– Yes. So we’re on the sort of
pico/femto scale
with this stuff. – We’ve never done
that before, for sure.
– Yeah, no. This is completely
on another level. Shall we set up
the first experiment? – Sure, yeah.
– Start with the bottle? – Everyone should wear
laser goggles.
– Goggles? – Okay.
– Peng: We have some. – Do I look good?
– You’ve got side panels
in your glasses. – You look like
you’re about to–
– You look bad-ass. It looks like
you’re about to go skiing
with a welding torch. It’s just… So, I assume because
we’re trying to film light, it’ll be useful
to turn all the lights off
in here, right? – Yes.
– Otherwise, we’ll just get… All the ambient
light comes, yeah. Right. Okay. Let’s get ready
for lights off. Yeah. – Can you hold this for me?
– I’ll hold this. – Yeah, thank you.
– I’m excited. I get giddy by this
frame rate stuff. We want to see the light
propagation from the side, so we need to make sure
that the light is scattered
out of the plane of view through the milk
molecules inside, then you can see
light scatter from the side. So, this is a bottle
full of water with
a bit of milk in? So, I am going
to turn on the laser. So all you do is just move
mirrors and lenses around and then it goes
to different areas? We use that to move the laser.
The laser’s too big. See, the light hits
the bottom of the bottle. So it goes through
the bottle. – Is it a powerful laser?
– It’s very powerful. It can basically burn
any, like, papers. – I will stay away from that.
– Yeah. – Whoa, that’s cool.
– You can see its glow. The first thing
I’m going to capture is the static image as our reference. For today,
I’m going to try… – Excellent.
– Yeah, yeah. I mean, I remember
when I was excited when we started shooting, we moved from 1,000
frames a second – to 28,000 frames a second.
– That was a big jump. Okay, we’re pretty much done
with the water bottle. I’d like to take
a photo of this. As you can see,
we can only see the light. We cannot see the bottle
and the label on it. – Yeah.
– So, finally, in the movie,
we may want to overlap both the bottle itself
and the light. – Like, composite
a real picture.
– Yeah, yeah. So you just take a photo
on your phone and that can–
you can do that? Yeah, you can just use
software to overlap
these two things. – Gav: Neat.
– Dan: You’re in
the photograph. Just photo-bombing
the bottle. Okay, let’s watch back
our bottle. This took eight hours
to process, during which time I grew
a slightly longer beard. I had a haircut as well. All right, here we go. Dan:Okay, so what
we’re seeing here
is the bottle’s just been
comped in, basically.
Gav:Yeah, this camera only
detects the light itself,
which is like
a blue-ish laser light, which is why you don’t
really see anything else other than the light
looking like that. And then we comp in
the picture of the bottle.In the room
with my actual eye,
it looked like
it was constantly lit up,
but here we’re able to followthe light moving
through the bottle.
It may not look like it,
but this is actually real.
Dan:It’s refracting the photons
and that’s why you can see it.
But when it’s just
going through the air,
there’s nothing to actually
reflect the light.
Gav:Yeah, it’s only
showing up in the bottle.
It is interesting.
It almost looks like sort of
an ’80s film effect.
It does, doesn’t it?
It looks like– Like some sort of ghost
flying into the room. But actually, that is light. Gav:Isn’t that weird?
Look at the scale.
Every frame seems to be
ten picoseconds.
And we’re just
sort of casually
watching this light
go left to right
through the bottle,
but in reality,
the light is moving
a million times faster
than a bullet.– Dan:What a mental subject.
Yeah.Gav:Okay, so we’ve shot light
through milk.
– Next experiment?
– Yep. For this experiment,
we designed a special cavity. We call it a chaotic cavity. When light comes in
the cavity, it will bounce back
and forth multiple times by the mirrors surrounding
in the cavity. – You’re almost
trapping light inside the–
– Yeah. Yeah, exactly. What’s the purpose of this?
This egg thing? This is to create
a water vapor surrounding the environment
so that light scatters out. – The same thing, like–
– Oh, so you can sort of
see a little bit. – Makes sense.
– Yeah, so this is how
the system works. – Turn it on.
– All right, let’s go do
the “experimon.” How long did it take you
to learn to use this? Uh, maybe a few months
to get used– – A few months
to get used to it.
– Yeah. Because it’s a really
complicated system. It’s really complicated,
is it? I hadn’t noticed. ( both muttering ) Okay, so this is
the chaotic cavity at 100 billion frames
a second. Just like nothing. Gav:Once again, the duration
of this video is–
you can’t even
get your head around
how short an amount
of time it is.
Dan:That is amazing.Gav:
When we were in the room,
it looked like
the whole thing was glowing,
but now we can see
the individual pulse of light
bouncing around this thing.Looks like a weird version
of “Pong.”
This is one femtosecond
of laser pulse, so it’s as if
you just went like… – with a laser.
– A femtosecond pulse. Gav:And if you pause it,
you can see it’s just
a dot of light.
Dan:And it’s comped in
the shape of the mirrors.
I wonder if you could
actually build, like, a big maze
to get it around. Do, like, a little maze
and try to get it in. – World’s fastest
maze completion.
– Yeah. – ( trills )
– Light. Dan:Oh, it almost went in
the corner there.
Gav:It is. It’s like the DVD
screensaver, isn’t it?
You just want it to go
straight in the corner.
Dan:Nearly.– So this one’s 100 billion?
– Yeah. Should we see what
500 billion looks like? – All right, so the area
is quite small.
– Yes. So there’s no way
that we can stand in and be
filmed by this camera. But alternative solution–
little mini-figurines of us. Wait, why is mine–
oh, for goodness sake. – Again, every time.
– So we’ll put them on there. – Flipping heck.
– All right. So, in this experiment,
instead of shooting light
from the side, I’ve changed the beam path
to bounce back this mirror, this mirror,
and use a concave lens to expand the beam
to shoot at an angle. So this is more about
scattering light on the surface
of the figurines? Yes, you’re sweeping across
the surface of the figures. Because we’re obviously
not see-through, so… Yeah. This is the static image
of the two figures. Now I’m doing 500 billion
frames a second with two by two coding. So two by two
and a casual half trill. – ( both laugh )
– Peng: Yeah. I think we’re pretty much
done with this one. This is 500 billion frames
a second of our little figurines,with a resolutionof 549 by 439.The footage is played backat 20 frames a second,therefore it’s slowed down bya factor of 25 billion times.I do like that I was ableto successfully photobomb
this picture.
Dan:I like how it shows up
on your nose so much.
Gav:All right, I knew
you’d say something about that.
It does– it does get caught
by my nose, doesn’t it?
– Dan:Yeah.
– Gav:It is interesting
to see the light scatter
on the surface of somethingas opposed to go
through our body.
Dan:So again,
all they’ve done here
is pretty much
comp in our bodies
with the light.
So the camera would have
got this blue light
and they’ve just taken
a picture and comped in us
and matched it up
to where the light hit.
Gav:You look miserable
in that.
Dan:You look like I’ve just
said something awkward,
and you’re like, “Ooh.” – Should we do these poses?
– Yeah, sure. Gav:And you can see
on the time scale
it’s a much slower progression
of picoseconds.
as opposed to half a trillion
frames a second.
All right,
that’s 500 billion done. – Child’s play.
– Child’s play. – Let’s crank it up.
– All the way? – Yep.
– All right. Let’s do 10 trillion
frames a second. So, Peng, we’re at
a different camera now. – Is that correct?
– Yeah. And this one can do
up to 10 trillion frames
a second? Yeah, yeah.
This is the 10 trillion
frames a second. That’s the maximum speed
that we can do. Here we have a sample
which contains diluted milk, about a few millimeters long. That’s all that
the camera’s looking at,
is a few millimeters long? Yeah, that’s how long
the light propagates
within 30 picoseconds. Dan: Okay, wow. Here is the same software that we use to
capture the image. So for this one
we’re allowed to keep
the lights on? Because we are doing
ultra fast images within
a very narrow time scale there’s a minimum amount
of light that comes
through the ambient light. – In comparison
to the powerful laser.
– Laser, yeah. – It’s all relative, I suppose.
– Yeah, much brighter. – All right, cool.
– Yeah, this is how it works. Dan: So this is
a much smaller scale ’cause we’re using
a higher frame rate capturing a very much
smaller amount of space and time,
essentially. – Yes.
– Gav: All right. This is the light traveling
through the milk vial at 10 trillion frames
a second. – This is the reason
we came here.
– Yeah. – Gav:So cool.
So on the bottle video,the light seemed to have
gained the same speed.
But then you gotta remember
that the scale of this
is much smaller.
So this is one millimeter,
it says here,
is the distance,
whereas before,
it was an entire bottle.
Which shows you that
we’re actually recording
light traveling through
such a small amount of space.
Gav:And it’s so slow now
that our picosecond
has a decimal place to
the hundredth femtosecond.
Dan:That’s blowing my mind
for a start.
Gav:When Peng turned on
the laser,
I didn’t see anything at all.But now we can actually
see how it moves.
On this scale of time,if we fired a bullet
through this frame,
it would take yearsto go from one side
to the other.
Dan:And the light
is just going, blip.
That really puts it
into perspective as well,
doesn’t it?
I just feel like no human
should ever have seen this. It’s like looking at
the base of the universe.I’ve heard
that in the future,
the CalTech team actually
intends to increase the speed
up to one quadrillion
frames per second.
It’s a bit mind-blowing,
to be honest. Gav: We have to leave now
and go back to our old measly hundreds of thousands
of frames a second. Measly, pathetic
hundreds of thousands. Thank you very much, Peng,
for showing us your amazing kit. – Thank you.
– Yeah, thanks. – Thank you.
– Learned a lot. Yeah. Well, to me,
that’s some of the most mind-blowing footage ever. I mean, visually,
it’s just a blobgoing from left to right.But to know that
that’s light–
Dan:I would say it
was actually one of the most
mind-blowing things
that we’ve seen.
Well, I feel
very accomplished. Hopefully,
you enjoyed watching light move through the air
in slow-mo. Feel free to check out
other episodes from “Planet Slow Mo,”
and join us in part two, where we’ll be
learning a lot more about how this camera works. You can subscribe, too,
if you want. We’d appreciate it. Still not sure
I’ll be able to understand
it after part two. – We’ll do our best.
– All right.

100 thoughts on “Filming the Speed of Light at 10 Trillion FPS

  1. Dino0o0o0o Post author

    So if I understood correctly we are seeing the light move across the bottle way later (in the pico timescale) than it actualy happened since we see the light when it hits the camera lense. We are only seeing the light refracted towards the camera, it takes a while to get from the bottle to the camera. Woah

  2. Luke Bolser Post author

    Now have a livestream of this camera being used to film a bullet traveling over a certain distance

  3. RedSteer Post author

    For reference if you where to record at 10 trillion FPS and then play back at 100 FPS it would take you over 3000 years to watch the video

  4. Connor Post author

    Keep in mind light travels arount the earth 7.5 times in one second….

  5. Nerifter Afrnam Post author

    6:50 looks like some old computer game from the mid 70´s

  6. nicholas rose Post author

    ofcourse an asian made the worlds fastest camera (not meant to be offensive)

  7. ****** Post author

    а что перевести на рашу в падлу было? название на раше а материал на буржуйском. минус вам за это

  8. PlateFul of Cuteness Post author

    I want to play games in 10 trillion frames per second

  9. Вацлав Р Post author

    Охренеть. Не думал, что при жизни увижу движение фотона.

  10. leandro_FC_ Post author

    Tgis is boringgggg I took a picture and that had infinite FPS

  11. Edward Bernays Post author

    Very very interesting subject matter…… However Slow Mo Guys occasional Englishman’s “comical quips” are childish and trivialise the subject rather than inform.

  12. • Finjank • Post author

    Вот бы такой фпс в фортнайте

  13. • Finjank • Post author

    Я именно тот самый русский,которого та искал

  14. SnowboardinMA Post author

    Light travels 299,792,458 meters in 1 second.
    A picosecond is 1 trillionth of a second.
    So light travels 0.000299792458 meter in 1 picosecond, or about 0.3mm

  15. Урген я Post author

    Сомневаюсь о наличии аппаратуры, что бы заснять скорость света. Это противоиечит самой себе.

  16. Paul Hogsten Post author

    Fools "Light is a like coaxial cable, or circuit. A longitudinal dielectric with transverse electrical and magnetic components. It is a longitudinal perturbation in the medium, the ether. There's no such thing as the quote-unquote “speed of light”."! There are no particles of light (photons) nor are electrons particles! Wake Up!

  17. Autumn B. Post author

    I like how they both have something they make fun of each other about, dan’s dummy thickness and gav’s nose.

  18. Takua Post author

    where do you skip to for the reason you clicked on the video

  19. Talha ohshit Post author

    6:47 Can someone kindly explain to me whats happening here? Thanks

  20. Alucard Post author

    Ach du heiliger Bimbam Wenn das Albert Einstein sehen würde der würde vor Freude weinen 😃

  21. Erik Liu Post author

    But can it capture the speed of my deteriorating mental health?

  22. AlphaSquad Gaming Post author

    Anyone ever wonder how much they get paid to mess around with stuff like this?

  23. Gabriel DarkTM Post author

    World’s fastest camera and the pc have windows 7😂😂

  24. richard brewster Post author

    I like to judge but why the gratuitous facial hair?

  25. Sukhbir Sekhon Post author

    They should do double slit experiment with this camera.

  26. Sukhbir Sekhon Post author

    A picosecond is an SI unit of time equal to 10⁻¹² or ¹/₁ ₀₀₀ ₀₀₀ ₀₀₀ ₀₀₀ of a second. That is one trillionth, or one millionth of one millionth of a second, or 0.000 000 000 001 seconds. A picosecond is to one second as one second is to approximately 31,689 years. Wikipedia

  27. George Jojan Post author

    I can’t believe that there is someone called peng wang

    Where I am from peng means awesome or cool and I can already imagine that you know what a wang is

  28. Inquisitive_Transient Post author

    Tell them to point the camera at the sky so we could see super small, super fast aliens flying around.

  29. Godfrey Jemand Post author

    No Einstein wouldn't say, "It was very cool… It absolutely blew my mind", because he knew
    that there are NO ABSOLUTES except in thr minds of two dumb dudes who need attention and the money from YT and above all the greater NEEEEED to look like experts. They can't get laid so they have to do this. PITY.

  30. PhilzGoodMan Post author

    Imagine watching a video about the speed of light at 24 FPS in 2020

  31. MossAway™ Victoria Post author

    Part of me is so happy you didn't go to those hacks at MIT. That is not a high speed camera capturing a beam of light, it's really fast shutter capturing hundreds of beam of light at different time intervals. Then again, I have no idea how this actually works. For all I know it could be the same thing…

  32. xander forbs Post author

    Aside from light, can you use that camera to see if something is travelling at the speed of light from outer space?

  33. Nuttyman Post author

    Wish they had turned on a light switch to see the light fill the room

  34. Gnana Prakash Post author

    Watch it in 0.25x
    You will see….

    The same thing but slower

  35. Dan K Post author

    As the speed of light is invariant for any observer I would love to see if there was any difference between a stationary camera and a camera moving along the same path as the light

  36. Dubious Maximus Post author

    what is really sad, is that labs can speed up Light … and Water Naturally slows Light … it is NOT a constant.

  37. Raunak Srivastava Post author


    Proof-Helicopter's blade almost disappear while rotating when we will rotate along with the Copter at the same pace we will see it's blades rotating along with us.

  38. DontFearUnity DividedWeFall Post author

    if the action of light is true in this video then does this not show that when light touches anything, it aims to wrap around the object ? but we arent talking about those objects as a whole, but rather the surface friction (difficult to express what i am suggesting right now), does this not prove that friction plays a vital role, in diminishing light ? so we can start to take apart this light years nonsense e.g light traveling 100 billion miles etc, which seems quite obvious, not a possibility (unless there is no friction)

  39. sohaib umer Post author

    You've this mechanical energy to create this framerate then use this energy for time machines.

  40. Q Q Post author

    Totally cool that we can capture light itself
    Cannot wait for this test again at 1 quadrillion fps
    Maybe then we see true light for what it is
    Maybe next time with faster fps they can capture light without having to pass it thru a liquid to see it, then we see the true essence of light

  41. twisted whiskers Post author

    When they get it faster do light filling up a room

  42. Benjamin33 Post author

    More jump cuts of you swapping out your camera lens. That wasn’t annoying at all.

  43. BLAZENYCBLACKOPS Post author

    What blows me away about the universe is that even traveling at the speed of light it would still take a tremendous amount of time to reach certain places, science is awesome and the universe is mind boggling.

  44. sockington1 Post author

    would be worth watching – if you changed the tossers presenting it

  45. Ramatu Hussein Post author

    Gave looks like someone saying okay boomer in the year 4099

  46. Nickg Post author

    So what’s the speed of eyesight must be fast as it doesn’t take 600 light years to see a star that’s is 600 light years away like betel juice it’s instant so I think the speed of light and light years is a lie

  47. J Dubs Post author

    Imagine downloading this footage of 10 trillion fps on your PlayStation lmao

  48. Pedro Dessbesell Post author

    So this camera's shutter speed is faster than the light?

  49. orzel903 orzel903 Post author

    Tak szczerze powiedziawszy,nie przekonuje mnie to nic a nic… Jakies to nie bardzo realne doświadczenia.

  50. Cd D Post author

    No light was harmed in the making of this very boring video.

  51. Jisoo Kim Post author

    Light : the fastest thing on Earth

    The video : 13 mins long

  52. Yashwant waghmare Post author

    Want more slow mo of light decrease the playback speed to x0.25

  53. andrew alaniz Post author

    Approximately how many photons are in each of those blobs?

  54. Anl9977 Post author

    Eğer ışık söylendiği kadar hızlı olsaydı, çoktan bir Ninja yakalanmış olurdu.

  55. Random Memes Weekly Post author

    if only our games could run at 10 trillion fps

  56. francisco salazar Post author

    Use playback speed at 0.25x, you won't believe what you see.

  57. Livefree Ordie Post author

    Uh smells like pseudoscience, looks like pseudoscience, tastes like pseudoscience. Sci-fi dupes abound.


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