If the stroboscope is not quite synchronized with the object's motion, the object will appear to move slowly either backward or forward, depending upon whether the stroboscope's rotation is too fast or too slow. For more accurate observation a flashing light (stroboscopic light) is used instead of a disk. When used in conjunction with a camera a stroboscopic light can also be used to study motion that is not cyclic, e.g., a speeding bullet; the resulting photograph shows a series of still images whose separations are proportional to the object's speed.
The stroboscope was invented and improved upon by H. E. Edgerton starting in 1931. It has various uses in scientific research, teaching, and industry, where it is used to study stresses on parts of machines while in motion.
H. Edgerton et al., Stopping Time: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton (1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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