10,000-Year-Old Camera Lens Takes Striking Pictures

The first photograph was taken sometime in the early 1800s, and through almost two centuries of development we’ve advanced through black-and-white, the video camera, and even high-speed cameras that can take thousands of frames per second. [Mathieu Stern] took a step back from all of the technological progress of the past two hundred years, though, and found a lens for his camera hidden in the glacial ice of Iceland.

Ice in this part of the world has been purified over the course of 10,000 years, and [Mathieu] realized that with this purity the ice could be formed into a workable camera lens. The first step was to get something that could actually form the ice into the proper shape, and for that he used a modified ice ball maker that was shaped to make a lens rather than a sphere. Next, he needed an enclosure to hold the lens and attach it to his camera, which he made using a 3D printer.

For this build, the hardest part probably wasn’t making the actual equipment, but rather getting to the right place in Iceland and actually making the lenses. At room temperature the lenses could be made in around five minutes, but in Iceland it took almost 45 minutes and the first four attempts broke. The fifth one was a charm though, so after over five hours on the beach he was finally able to make some striking images with the 10,000-year-old ice lens which melted after only a minute of use. If that seems like too much work, though, you can always outfit your camera with no lens at all.

Thanks to [baldpower] for the tip!


46 thoughts on “10,000-Year-Old Camera Lens Takes Striking Pictures

  1. F’ing clickbait. I could say I take my videos with a 4 billion year old camera, because my camera lenses and microchips are made from silicon that was formed at least that long ago. Most of the water on this planet has been water for far more than 10,000 years, and saying that ice that’s just sat there for 10,000 years in a glacier has been “purified” that long is just stupid. Do the impurities spontaneously disintegrate over time?

    What? You can’t take water that was purified YESTERDAY and make a lens from it? Just dumb. And not even a very good lens.

        1. They’re getting a bit too free with the clickbait round here. Long-term you’re onto a loser, and geeks have long memories and are quick to take umbrage. You can only irritate the audience on here for so long, and we’re irritable at the best of times (though the greatest folk are Hackaday folk! Yes they are!).

          I dunno who the clickbait is supposed to attract, wandering Instructables readers? They wouldn’t like it here. Different sort of site.

          If you want Instructables etc readership, the most logical way would surely be to clone Instructables. Not take a different site altogether, then try force it into a shape it doesn’t fit. Then you’re not pleasing anybody.

          Seriously HAD should knock this shit off. AIUI the writers don’t get paid per view, so presumably it’s some editorial drone somewhere, drunk on buzzwords, who’s been tinkering like this.

          Nothing wrong with “lens made from glacier”, would still interest people who wanted to read about that. Those who don’t want to read about it, but are tricked, end up feeling cheated. That’s hard to reclaim, something a web site should really avoid.

    1. > Do the impurities spontaneously disintegrate over time?

      no, but impurities/lattice defects will very slowly migrate out of the ice as the thermodynamic ground state is a single pure crystal of ice.

      of course this is an extremely slow process, but the basic principle can be demonstrated by simply freeing salt water, rinsing the surface, then melting the ice and comparing the salinity to what you started with.

  2. okay… so we have a perfectly fine iceberg then someone comes along and starts chipping pieces of to make a lens.
    Yesterday icebergs only had to fear the sun and global warming, but now they also are being threatened by lens makers. Again humans destroy their environment to make another throw-away item.

    But other then that, a fun experiment. Though I would like to know more about the mentioned purification. Does it has to do something with tiny air bubbles being trapped if water freezes to quickly (like in the fridge in our home)? If I look at the ice from the water in my pond at winter it looks pretty clear, no bubbles or such. I can’t imagine that dirt or particles of any kind work their way out or dissolve over a period thousands of years, so I would like to learn more about what is really happening (or meant with “pure”). This mentioned “purification” personally intrigues me more then the lens you can make from it.

    1. Not just that they are chipping away glaciers to make lenses that last only a minute – they use 3d-printers, wasting energy (I *know* they have more than enough energy in Island, just saying!) and resources to make a hold-up for something that won’t last longer than an espresso … this hack is wrong on a lot of levels.

    2. Ice core samples purify over time? Oh no, that kind of kills the CO2 data, but of course nothing really matters, with Climatology, just that everyone believes and follows. Turn, before we all burn up… Guess ice core ice, is much different from iceberg ice, much like man-made CO2 is very different than natural CO2.

    1. Well, it´s actually easy. The key is to have your water freeze SLOWLY: Put your water into an insulated can, then in the freezer at just the minimum for it to form ice, be patient, that´s it

  3. He could have done the same thing with ice sculpture ice. Clickbate for sure. I knew it was impossible before I clicked it but it got me to click, then I proceeded to be disappointed.

  4. Clickbait and a fuzzy picture to boot. Total garbage. How about a water drop lens camera. That might be interesting. You know what would make this even dumber but someone out there wll do? Use a peltier device to put and ice lens on a dumb assed badge. Or use an ice lens to focus a big laser at a guys house that has a big assed aluminum foil ball of popped pop corn in it. That would be real genius.

  5. This now provides a direct path to being able to start a fire with nothing but ice and something to burn.

    Oogah Boogah. Grog make fire beating rocks together!!
    No big thing, Zarg. I see Borf make fire with just sticks and leather string.
    That nothing too. Me know how to make fire with only ice. Me big top man. :-)

      1. I used to watch that. Great show. David sounded like Mr Cunningham of Happy Days and Swift the fox was David’s global super-sonic transport. I don’t remember the ice lensing though. I guess I’ll have to get the DVD out. :-)

        1. Ah, this was the accompanying book series, my little sister got them. One of those partworks. Not sure if there was the usual A4-size flimsy “magazine” to go with it, or just the books themselves. But each one, sold weekly probably, gave information about nature and Eskimos and gnomes and stuff.

          I didn’t watch the show much. But I can remember the end of the theme song! “In every wish and dream…”

  6. I’m applying for a grant to take photos THROUGH HELIUM! With a special built helium filled camera body. “Photographic light passing through pure helium and the homeopathic effect”.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.