Most people are familiar with the photographs of Harold E. “Doc” Edgerton ScD ’31 — the iconic milk drop, the bullet through an apple. What might come as a surprise is that the late professor’s lab, Strobe Alley, is still being used at MIT today.
On a recent Friday morning, photographer Randall Armor visited Strobe Alley.
See his behind-the-scenes-tour.
Later in his career, Edgerton transformed nighttime aerial photography during World War II. He spent decades working with sonar and photographing the ocean depths with Jacques Cousteau, who gave Edgerton the nickname “Papa Flash”. He even won an Oscar in 1940. Perhaps most importantly, his innovations paved the way for cheap and portable electronic flashes, making them an invaluable tool for science and photography.
Learn more about his innovative work:
class of 79 BSEE
When I was at MIT, I attended a lecture that Prof. Edgerton gave on his work with stroboscopic photography. He presented slides of some of his photographs, and a 8mm movie of a flying bat. The movie was amazing, more impressive to me than any air show I have seen featuring either the Blue Angels (US Navy) or the Thunder birds (US Air Force) precision flying teams. He aimed a camera at a spot in the room and used an air cannon to shoot bugs up in front of the camera. A bat was flying freely in the room. It would fly in front of the camera, catch the bug in it’s wing and flip it into it’s mouth. Usually this was with the outer front area of the wing. But sometimes it would catch it with the rear area of the wing and do a double flip, 1st from the rear of the wing to the front of the wing, and then to the mouth. Some years later during the VCR era, I checked if the MIT museum shop had a VCR cassette of that movie for sale. Alas, they did not. I would still like to get a copy of it in a current video format.