Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Explosive Photographs

Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton was a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is credited with transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory instrument into a common device.

In 1925 Edgerton received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  He earned an S.M. in electrical engineering from MIT in 1927. Edgerton used stroboscopes to study synchronous motors for his Sc.D. thesis in electrical engineering at MIT, awarded in 1931. He credited Charles Stark Draper with inspiring him to point stroboscopes at everyday objects: the first was a stream of water coming out of a faucet.

In 1937 Edgerton began a lifelong association with photographer Gjon Mili, who used stroboscopic equipment, particularly a "multiflash" strobe light, to produce strikingly beautiful photographs, many of which appeared in Life Magazine. This strobe light could flash up to 120 times a second. Edgerton was a pioneer in strobe photography, subsequently using the technique to capture images of balloons during their bursting, or a bullet during its impact with an apple.

His work was instrumental in the development of side-scan sonar technology, used to scan the sea floor for wrecks. Edgerton worked with the undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, by first providing him with underwater stroboscopes, and then by using sonar to discover the Britannic. Edgerton participated in the discovery of the American Civil War battleship USS Monitor.

Edgerton was a co-founder of the company EG&G, with Kenneth Germeshausen and Herbert Grier, in 1947. EG&G became a prime contractor for the Atomic Energy Commission and had a major role in photographing and recording nuclear tests for the United States through the fifties and sixties. For this role he developed the Rapatronic camera, which was supplied by EG&G.

The following images are all Edgerton pictures of experimental detonations of nuclear weapons.  The structure that can be seen in some of the images is extremely interesting. 

1 comment:

  1. These look eerily similar to the innards of a white tail deer...