Setting fire to things isn’t in and of itself science. But if you record it using schlieren photography at 10,000 frames per second—as in this video of laser-ignited methane—then it’s getting closer.
The video, created by Victor Miller and his team from Stanford University and first shown on the New York Times site, shows what happens in the first moments after a bubble of methane gas is ignited with an intense burst of laser. What you’re actually looking at, thanks to the fancy schlieren photography technique, is the changing density of the expanding flame as it stretches out to fill—and consume—its surroundings.
If you want to known more about the schlieren technique, watch this neat video explainer. You can watch the full clip made by Miller below.