After discovering the effect through a digital camera viewfinder, researchers have recreated it in real life.
Computer graphics researchers have created a lighting system that allows you to see the wavelength patterns of plucked guitar strings, and it's quite the amazing effect.
After noticing that plucked strings seemed to form a wave pattern when shot through a digital camera, the researchers set out to recreate the effect in real life without the need of a camera. A lighting system was created that would recreate the "sweeping" pattern that digital cameras use to capture light. It's like moving a document back and forth on a copier as it scans the original.
Why does this work? Our optical senses are slow, comparatively, to the speed of light. Because we aren't seeing every microsecond of information, rapid movement looks blurry to us. It's the same principle that makes movie projectors work: The frames of the movie are being shown one after another, it's just that the pace is so rapid, it looks like movement.
A series of sweeping lights zoom past the strings so quickly, we only perceive the small bits of information that are lit. The sweeping light has to be tuned with the right frequency, however, to actually produce the effect every time a new note is played. The guitars are fed through a computer MIDI controller that adapts the sweeping light to the pitch played on the instrument.
Watch the video for more uses and examples of this amazing lighting device. It would make for an awesome music video.