A whole new kind of 3D image

(via Boing Boing) Some of technological advancement is stuff like confirming the existence of the Higgs Boson, studying the fabric that gives particles mass and making huge leaps in the most basic levels of understanding -- or, getting a vehicle the size of a Mini Cooper to land on the surface of another planet intact and send high-resolution photos.

But sometimes, technology is some people figuring out clever uses for old knowledge, maybe noticing that we can do something now just because we have refined enough tools, that we always could have imagined, but didn't.

These may be less awe-inspiring, but I think they're way cooler to learn about -- perhaps only because I can wrap my head around the whole of their implications (maybe), but mostly just because they're so damn clever.

Scientists at the University of California: Santa Cruz have figured out how to print a 2D(ish) picture that looks 3D, but not the 3D we're used to -- this kind of image reflects light as though it were a 3D object in the paper.

I don't know how to describe what this does, because I've never seen anything like it.  In the realm of image creation, it's basically a totally new thing, and that's one of the coolest things that technology gives us.

Right now, the technology is at about the level of dot-matrix printers, which is so out-of-date we don't even generally use it for receipts anymore, but I can only barely imagine what it will be like to look at one of these pictures in five years of improving technology, and then in five more years of price dropping.  I want a Van Gogh print that responds to light like you're looking at the actual shape of the oil paint sticking off the canvas.  And I really want some of the art made specifically for this medium.

Here's the video about it.  Watch it.  They manage to successfully explain what they're doing.