DURHAM, N.C. -- Engineers at Duke University have developed a way to extract a sequence of images from light scattered through a mostly opaque material -- or even off a wall -- from one long photographic exposure.

The study appeared online on September 10 in the journal Scientific Reports.

When light gets scattered as it passes through a translucent material, the emerging pattern of "speckle" looks as random as static on a television screen with no signal.

Because the light coming from one point of an object travels a path very similar to that of the light coming from an adjacent point, the speckle pattern from each looks very much the same, just shifted slightly.

With enough images, astronomers used to use this "memory effect" phenomenon to create clearer images of the heavens through a turbulent atmosphere, as long as the object being imaged is sufficiently compact.

A few years ago, however, the memory effect technique became popular with scientists again.

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