World's Fastest Camera: 4.4 Trillion Frames Per Second

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that twelve scientists from two Japanese universities have built the world's fastest high-speed camera. While mechanical and electronic shutters have thus far been limited to billions of frames per second, this new camera can capture -- this is not a typo, folks -- 4.4 TRILLION frames per second. Granted, the resolution of the one-meter squared image sensor is currently limited to 450 x 450 pixels.

But wait, how did they do this? And what's it for?

First, unlike filmmaking, sporting events on TV, and your favorite YouTube videos, this type of high-speed photography, according to the scientists' article in nature photonics, is a valuable scientific tool "for studying fast dynamics in photochemistry, spintronics, phononics, fluidics, and plasma physics." 

Basically, the camera is so fast the University of Tokyo scientists were able to visually capture "the conduction of heat, which is transmitted at a speed equivalent to one-sixth the velocity of light." (SIDE NOTE: I'm hoping they also accidentally invent time travel.)

The technology in question is called STAMP, or Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping Photography, which falls under motion picture femtophotography, or an "all-optical mapping of the target's time-varying spatial profile onto a burst stream of sequentially timed photographs with spatial and temporal dispersion." That is, they map movement over space and time, and record it all on the world's most impressive Burst Mode. The Japanese scientists are hopping to make the image sensor smaller as they develop the project over the next few years.

Honestly, I don't know what it all means or how it works, but it sounds pretty impressive and I can't wait to see what the visual end results actually look like. Granted, if we played back one whole second at the cinema-standard 24 frames per second, we'd end up watching the one video for the next 5800 years (give or take).