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Action-packed science-fiction movies often feature colourful laser bolts. But what would a real laser missile look like during flight, if we could only make it out? How would it illuminate its surroundings? The answers lie in a film made at the Laser Centre of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw.

Tests of a new compact high-power laser have given researchers at the Laser Centre of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw (IPC PAS and FUW) the opportunity to film the passage of an ultrashort laser pulse through the air. The film shows the journey of a light projectile at an extremely slow rate, similar to that watched on cinema screens by science-fiction aficionados.

"If you wanted to film a single light impulse to move as slowly on film as in our recording, you would have to use a camera operating at a speed of a billion frames per second", says Dr. Yuriy Stepanenko, leading the team responsible for the construction of the laser.

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