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Doc Edgerton

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Able to photograph a bullet in flight, Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton was born in April 6,1903 in Fremont, Nebraska. Harold Edgerton studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where from 1926 to 1931 he (and his associates) developed the modern stroboscope. Edgerton applied his discovery of the modern stroboscope to a wide range of fields. His discovery aided under-water photography and sonar research, photography in nature, and motion pictures. He taught thousands of students at MIT, and he enjoyed every minute of teaching.

Edgerton enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a graduate student, but he remained there for approximately 60 years. At MIT, Doc Edgerton was a professor of electrical engineering. As a graduate student at MIT, Edgerton developed an electric strobe light with which he produced flashes of 1/500,000 second. When the flash is used in a series, the progressive stages of an object in motion can be recorded on the same piece of film. An example of this would be Tennis by Edgerton. Now, flashes are at the speed of a few billionths of a second, this would not have been possible without the work of Doc Edgerton.

The simplest kind of stroboscope is a revolving disk with usually one slit or hole, but sometimes more, in its periphery. These holes enable the observer to view the object. The revolutions of the disc can be synchronized, with the motion of the object. With the precise synchronization, even photographs of bullets in flight can be taken. The photographs are like contemporary motion picture frames.

Not only was the discovery of the modern high-speed stroboscope useful in photography, but also in the field of engineering. The stroboscope could be used to study wear, vibration, and distortion of moving parts while the parts of the machine are being used (the machine is running).

Edgerton was also involved in ocean research. He took a few photographic journeys with his good friend Jacques Cousteau. Cousteau gave Edgerton the nickname “Papa Flash.” Jacques Cousteau, at celebration for the life of Edgerton, said; “He (Edgerton) was the only human being I ever met that met life with as much enthusiasm…He was a perpetual dreamer.
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