Dr.Harold Edgerton once demonstrated to us in class the giant strobe he had designed for the US military to do low altitude aerial photo recon of Europe, preliminary to our invasion of La Belle France.
They wheeled in on a dolly a trunk-sized high voltage storage capacitor power supply. Connected to it, on a tripod, was a 3 or 4-ft diameter highly polished parabolic reflector housing a huge flash tube in the shape of a long quartz helix. He held an unfolded issue of the Boston Globe some 4-ft in front of the reflector, told us to keep our eyes shut and covered with our hands, and then he triggered the flash. The paper was smoking and on fire - which he quenched in a water filled bucket.
Before its use in Europe, the Brits poo pooed the whole idea and were reluctant to to test it over England. Edgerton then leaked the coordnates of a nudist camp located in a secluded England country site. The next day the flight tests began in earnest and the Brits got some good photos. The rest is history.
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