11 Things That Have Never Been Caught on Camera
A close-up of the sun, the passage of time, a reclusive artist: Check out the missing photos you didn’t realize you wanted to see.
The sun—from closer than 15 million miles
On November 8, 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe snapped a photograph of our primary star from 15 million miles away. But that’s the closest any camera has gotten to the sun, yet. Check out 14 more of the most baffling mysteries about the universe.
The sun in real time
The sun is much closer than any of the other stars we see in the night sky. Even so, it takes, on average, eight minutes and 20 seconds for sunlight to travel from the sun to the Earth. That means that if the sun were to suddenly, say, go out, it would take at least eight minutes for us to notice that it was missing.
A star in real time
Light travels super fast. But the closest star to Earth (other than the sun), Alpha Centauri, is so far away that it takes four years for its light to reach our eyes (and camera lenses). That means a photo of Alpha Centauri taken today is actually a photo of Alpha Centauri from four years ago. The time difference is even longer for all the stars that are further from Alpha Centauri. Check out these 24 astronomy facts they probably didn’t teach you in school.
A woman on the moon
Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/REX/Shutterstock
Twelve astronauts have walked on the moon: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt. Not a woman among them. And despite the fact that women have been visiting space since 1963 (when Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova made her “maiden” voyage), no woman has ever even visited the moon either. So while it’s entirely feasible to take a photo of a woman on the moon, it hasn’t happened yet.
Gravity is the force that draws objects toward the center of the Earth, or at least that’s how our human minds have come to understand it. But while we are aware of gravity, and can easily take a photograph of its consequences, we can’t actually prove that gravity exists. As Forbes puts it, “There is no way to absolutely rule out the idea that gravity is caused by invisible, insubstantial pixies.” And there’s certainly no way to take a photograph of those pixies, or whatever force is at work in this thing we call “gravity.” Instead, take a look at these rarely seen photos of significant historical moments.
“Magnetism” has the capacity to defy gravity. For example, if you drop a paper clip, it can defy gravity if you hold a magnet above it. Just as we can’t take a photo of what makes gravity happen, we also can’t take a photo of what makes magnetism happen. However, we may be getting closer to capturing a photographic image of magnetism at work.
The moment of death
You can take a photo after death, and you can take a photo before death—see examples of this on the photography blog Feature Shoot—but it’s impossible to capture the precise moment when death occurs.
“When the human soul produces a thought, it sends vibrations through the brain, the phosphorus it contains starts radiating, and the rays are projected out,” wrote Louis Darget at the turn of the 20th century. Darget was convinced he could find a way to photograph thoughts and set about doing so with a contraption consisting of a photographic plate attached to a headband. He wasn’t successful—and no one has ever been able to capture thoughts on film. Yet. In the meantime, here are 100 fun and interesting facts about practically everything.
See that apple? It might look red to you. But it might not look red to your friend who has red-green color blindness and can’t distinguish red from green. If you could ask an octopus what color the apple is, it would reply “blue”: The mollusk can’t see red at all. This raises the question: What color is the apple? A photograph of the apple only complicates matters further because the light used to take the photo and the processing of the photo will impact the photographic image. So while photographs are an acceptable way to record reality, they really can’t record objective reality, or at least not one that everyone can agree upon.
The passage of time
We can easily see the first three dimensions—height, width, and depth—and have no trouble photographing them. That’s not true with of the fourth dimension: time. Photographers have attempted to depict a representation of the passage of time through before-and-after photos and even time-lapse technology. But the passage of time, itself, cannot be photographed, so far.