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Technical Perspective: The Dawn of Computational Light Transport


It is easy to forget, when casually observing our surroundings, that the speed of light is finite. Light travels so quickly that even though it may scatter, refract, or bounce many times on nearby surfaces before reaching our eyes, these events are spaced just trillionths of a second apart—too fast for any conventional camera to resolve, and certainly too fast for our own visual system to perceive as anything but instantaneous.

But are these individual light transport events really beyond the realm of direct visual observation? What would the world look like if we had a chance to observe it with a trillion-frame-per-second video camera? And what insights might one gain from such observations?


 

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