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Bullet through three balloons

Major collection: Science & Technology
Named collection: Harold E. Edgerton Collection
Object type: negative
Maker: Edgerton, Harold Eugene
Place made: United States
Date made: 1959
Measurements: 4" x 5"

If you look closely at the far right of this picture, you can see the .22 caliber bullet that popped these three balloons. The EG&G Microflash was used to show how the balloon peels away from the inital puncture, until it finally collapses. At the heart of the microflash is a quart or Pyrex tube, around which are wrapped two electrodes coming from from the capacitor. Through the process of conduction, a high voltage spark sent into this tube causes an arc of electricity to jump between the electrodes on the outside, resulting in a bright flash. Unlike most electronic flash lamps, which are filled with xenon, the microflash uses plain air. This choice produces a much shorter afterglow from the flash than a xenon lamp. When this flash is triggered, the arc displaces the air around it, much like lightning in a summer storm. And the microflash produces its own thunder, too, like a gun shot. To quiet the noice, a glass tube, sealed with a rubber cork at the open end, encloses the quartz tube. For bullet photography, a reflector is placed around the assembled lamp to concentrate the light in on spot. The exposure is made in total darkness. To trigger the flash at the proper moment, a microphone picks up the sound from the gunshot to fire the microflash."


Related Media

Related People

Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, Inc.
defense contractor company; provider of management and technical services
thumbnail Edgerton, Harold Eugene
1903-1990; electrical engineer; professor

Related Subjects

Balloons -- Harold E. Edgerton Negative Collection subject term
High Speed Photography
Stop-Motion Photography