Australian Scientists Develop Formula for Blink-free Photos

Australian Scientists Develop Formula for Blink-free Photos

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January 5, 2007 – Most people know that when it comes to group photos, it requires multiple takes. Chances are at least one person will mess up the photo by blinking. Australian scientists from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) noted the same thing and calculated a formula for a blink-free group photo.

CSIRO’s physicists, Dr. Piers Barnes and Ms. Nic Svenson developed the equation to ensure a non-blinked photo, winning themselves the Ig Nobel, an award for offbeat research, literature, and art.

The simple equation factors in the number of people in the group, blink frequency, and shutter speed. For groups less than 20 people, divide the number of people by three in good light or with flash to find out how many pictures to take so no one is blinking. For groups in low light, divide the number of people (if under 20) by two. For example, for a group of 15 people in good lighting, the photographer would need to take five photos to ensure a blink-free photo.

"Everyone has thought about it, but no one bothers to find out about it, except for these two," said editor Marc Abrahams of Ig Nobel sponsor Improbable Research in an interview with

Barnes and Svenson’s research passed through 100 judges from a pool of about 5,000 to 6,000 new nominees this year. The only criteria for winning: to make people laugh, and then think.

Held annually at Harvard University, Ig Nobel winners Barnes and Svenson received their awards with other unconventional winners for their research in woodpeckers and head injury, the electromechanically teenage repellant, and the ultrasonic velocity in cheddar cheese.

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Although Ig Nobel Laureates do not win any prize money, they do receive an official award, certificate, and the "certain notoriety" that comes with it, Abrahams said.

"We are proud to have made a gross simplification of complex physiological and psychological factors backed with no empirical data," said Dr. Piers Barnes in an Oct. 6 CSIRO press release.

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