Ramesh Raskar: An Immigrant's Story

Initially inspired by the special effects of Jurassic Park, Ramesh Raskar has invented revolutionary electronic devices and now aims to create entirely new disciplines of research.

What's the Latest Development?


Born to a family of farmers in India, Ramesh Raskar was first inspired to pursue computer graphics after seeing the special effects of Jurassic Park. His story is not an unfamiliar one for a first generation immigrant: "Nobody on my father's or mother's side of the family has even a high school education. But my father, being an electronics engineer, made sure all his children focused on education rather than farming." Since getting his Ph.D. in North Carolina, he has worked at the M.I.T. media lab creating revolutionary new electronic devices. 

What's the Big Idea?

Among the devices he has invented is a four-flash camera that enables the kind of sketching familiar to most from the 1985 music video for the hit pop song "Take on Me" by the Norwegian band A-Ha. Currently he is working on a camera that can see around corners: "It bounces ultrashort bursts of laser light off a rigid surface—the wall opposite an open door, for instance—at several different angles and measures the time it takes the light to return to the camera." In order for the camera to measure the flight time of light particles, it must take a trillion exposures a second. 

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less

Too much sleep results in cognitive decline, researchers find

We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.

Photo: Vladislav Muslakvo / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
  • Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
  • Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 'tortured' orcas and belugas jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less