Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Flash! Bang! Wallop! What a picture!

Or it would have been, if that nit in the front hadn't blinked.

Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes of CSIRO won this year's IgNobel prize in Mathematics for developing an equation to calculate how many group photographs you have to take before ending up with one that's blink-free.

The answer depends on the number of people, of course, but also on the light levels. (A camera shutter stays open for longer in low light, which increases the chance of it catching a blink.)

One person—piece of cake. Twelve people? Getting tricker, but if the light levels are good, four shots should do. Make it half a dozen if it's gloomy.

Get to thirty and you're going to have to take a shot per person. Fifty? Give it away. Someone's going to blink. Guaranteed. (And, anyway, a whey-faced IT wallah with a misplaced sense of whimsy will be making bunny ears behind the manager's head. Then it will all end in tears.)

CSIRO's Velocity has a summary of the findings.

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