If light travels 3 lac km in 1 second we cannot see it moving and it seems to be continuous. Everything in our lives are far slower than this.

Like we cannot differentiate between the different images that make a movie clip if it changes 60 frames a second and the movie is continuous. Of course, as each frame or image making a movie clip has its own identity we can differentiate between each one of them while we cannot differentiate between light it is continuous.

i have read somewhere recently a scientist in UK has succeeded to slow down the light by moving it between certain molecules at specific temperatures and pressure.

If we make a movie of light and try to watch it in slow motion. How much slow moving it may seem? can i slow it to more than 60 times per second.

Do we have a instrument which can help us watch the light in slow motion. about 1/300 000 000 times slower so that in each fraction of time in seconds it only moves 1 meter. And since I want to make it seem to move in slow motion I will be able to watch it over a longer period of time. obviously I cannot watch what happens in that small fraction of second.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, watch this video $\endgroup$
    – Courage
    Mar 10, 2016 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ I've timed electrons, using stroboscopic techniques, at subpicosecond time scales; others have done it at subfemtosecond time scales. These are stop motion techniques, a million million frames per second and faster. And yet, each frame catches different things happening. There is no indication that motion is discontinuous at these time scales. $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2016 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGhostOfPerdition @ Peter-Diehr I watched the video and notice the light still seems continuous just seems to move slow in the movie. $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2016 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ Hi dear Peter, are you using attosecond laser for such purposes? It is a very new frontier that I hope someday will nail down the kinematics of electrons revolving the nucleus in this case. $\endgroup$
    – Benjamin
    Mar 10, 2016 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGhostOfPerditio do we also need a zoom i.e resize the image of light/ photons to have a more clearer picture in addition to watching it in slow motion? Not sure about a radii or size of photon when treated as a particle. i.e is zoomed slowmotion video ? $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2016 at 7:05

2 Answers 2


Its really hard to do something like this but people at MIT have done something that might interest you.

           (This is "not" a direct observation of light in slow motion)

They call it "Femto-Photography". The equipment they made captures images at a rate of roughly a trillion frames per second. But since direct recording of light is impossible at that speed, so the camera takes millions of repeated scans to recreate each image.

Below are some example time lapse images they have produced:

enter image description here enter image description here

Please check out their website and read the Frequently Asked Questions on the page to get more understanding of this concept : Femto-Photography: Visualizing Photons in Motion at a Trillion Frames Per Second

  • $\begingroup$ light in slow motion looks diffused :) $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2016 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ @AnupamRekha yes I see that too :D $\endgroup$
    – hxri
    Mar 10, 2016 at 10:51
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    $\begingroup$ The image reconstruction techniques are responsible for some of the blurring; local air cuurents and temperature fluctuations for more; and vibrations of the optical table; there are similar limitations with holography. $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2016 at 12:29

Things you have read about the scientists who are working to slow down the light is correct. But, a back-of-envelope calculation would show (utilizing Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle) that we will never be able to see both the momentum AND position (or in other words both the energy and time duration of a single photon) with infinite precisions; there is a lower limit in the product of their observed dispersions and this limit cannot be overcome in Nature. However, this only means that we need very high-tech instrumentations to be able to resolve those two observables in a statistical way. This is a very hard experiment to operate but I don't see it impossible. And I hope some experimentalist would help us to clarify the issue. So, the answer is, "It is possible, but experimentally challenging."


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