Slow-motion photography is cool and all, but now a team of scientists is using high-speed photography to track light as it travels through space. In this GIF, you're looking at a pulse of light hitting and bouncing off of a mirror. Really.
The researchers, based in Washington University in St. Louis, have used a technique called Compressed Ultrafast Photography (CUP) to chase the light at 100 billion frames per second. It's an advance on streak photography, where a sensor moves in the same direction as the light to try and image it, but extends the technique to two dimensions instead. The GIF above shows a laser pulse bouncing off a mirror, over a time period of about 300 picoseconds—that's 300 trillionths of a second.
Neat, and it has some practical application, too. It's hoped that the new technique will allow us to understand the true dynamics of light, seeing how it reflects and refracts and helping advance the field of invisibility cloaking. [Nature via Motherboard via Engadget]