Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles have developed a new imaging system called Steam, or Serial Time-Encoded Amplified imaging. Billed as the"fastest imaging system ever devised," it works by carefully manipulating so-called supercontinuum laser pulses, for imaging fast-moving or random events, such as communication between neurons. Instead of a flashbulb, this bad boy disperses a fast laser pulse, which then gets stretched in time and detected electronically, for a "shutter speed" of half a billionth of a second. When not being used to "trip people out" at "raves," this camera can capture over six million images a second. Our old PowerShot
can't even do half
that! According to the head of the research team, Bahram Jalali of UCLA, the next step is to improve the spatial resolution of the technology so they can take crystal clear pictures of the inner structure of cells. The team is also working on a similar technique for 3-D imaging.