Insects in slow motion

Time – the progress of existence and events in the past, present and future, regarded as a whole.

More often than not, however, we only think of time-lapse as being taken over a prolonged period.

The process of taking images at set intervals across multiple days or years helps us to see process our own eyes cannot pick up. A building being constructed, for example, as it is not physically possible to watch – or at least watch and notice rapid change – the work in real time.

But if time is simply looking at events and regarding them as a whole, then we should also consider its opposite – slow motion or “high-speed photography”.

After all, time-lapse photography was developed from the Victorian-era technique called “chronophotography”.

A ‘creepy-crawly’ video is the prime example of the slow motion photography technique and is as revolutionary to the living world as time-lapse has been.

For over a decade Dr Gregory Sutton has been studying how locusts, fleas, crickets and other insects take to the air – by using high-speed cameras.

Describing the process as being similar to drawing an arrow on a bow in a recent interview with the BBC, Dr Sutton explains that a froghopper takes five seconds to “rachet-up” for a jump. And a grasshopper releases the energy in its legs in just 30 thousandths of a second.

If all that detail is a little too much for a Monday morning, then the fascinating video that Dr Sutton and his colleague Prof Malcolm Burrows have produced reveals all.

You can view the whole video on the BBC website by clicking here. Alternatively, visit the University of Cambridge website to watch a GIF of a baby praying mantis jumping.

It is simply incredible.

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