File this under: cool MIT projects. That’s right, researchers at the university have done it again, this time creating a real camera that can take up to 1-trillion pictures a second. It takes “so many images that, when you play them in sequence at super-low-speed, you can see a light beam as it travels from A to B.” Continue reading for a video presentation from TED and more information.

The team used a laser, flicking it on and off in the space of a femtosecond – or a millionth of a billionth of a second. In order to get a grip on how short this time is, an oft-quoted example is that a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 32 million years. The laser, turned on and off, sends out a small beam of light, measuring in length just a millimetre.

The light is directed at a Coca Cola bottle in a darkened room, and the camera then film the light as it (relatively) slowly enters the bottle through the plastic bottom, moves to the far end while scattering light within the bottle, and then bounces off the bottle cap.