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How It Works: Night-vision goggles

How It Works: Night-vision goggles


From air-sea rescue to counter surveillance, night vision goggles have literally changed the way we see

Night vision typically utilises two types of technology; thermal imaging (infrared) and image intensification or light enhancement, of which the latter is the most portable and therefore suitable for use in night vision goggles. Light Enhancement devices take the photons present in ambient light (typically moon or starlight) from the front lens, pushing them through a photocathode tube that converts them into electrons, a microchannel plate containing millions of photoelectric channels that multiplies them before bouncing them against a phosphor screen to convert back into the distinctive green-tinged image seen through the eyepiece.
Night vision was first developed for tanks by both sides in WWII before being made portable for sniper scopes in Vietnam and finally for goggles in the Fifties. Now used by military, police and rescue operations worldwide, devices are classified as Generations 0-3, with consumer (Gen 1) devices starting from as little as £200 to far more expensive and sophisticated Gen 3 devices for military and counter-surveillance purposes.


For more bite-sized and in-depth, science-infused information pick up a copy of How It Works, the latest science and technology magazine from Imagine Publishing. The first issue goes on sale 29 October in UK and end of November in the US. It features such awe-inspiring subjects as; a look inside the Eurofighter Typhoon, the causes of extreme weather like tornados, tsunamis and hurricanes, the Bugatti Veyron, vision and sight, nuclear subs and the Large Hadron Collider. The magazine is complemented by a constantly updated website located at www.howitworksdaily.com.

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  • Chris Peters

    Just tried to “click here to read more”… of Gavin Mackenzie’s entry on how Night Vision Goggles work, only for a blank screen to appear. Now, while I’m not interested enough (or perhaps, not sad enough) to pay for the Prestige version of MW2 in order to get my hands on a pair, the brief mention of National Geographic Night Vision Goggles º price £9.99 (Peripherals, Page 096, Issue 187) did pique my curiosity. I wonder if you could advise on how to order the product or to contact the retailers/suppliers?
    Also, as this is the first time I’ve felt the urge to contact yourselves (being a fairly recent convert from dedicated PC user/gamer to the PS3), let me take this opportunity to praise your publication for being the best of those catering to the PS3 gaming market. I especially, want to highlight the enthusiastic review and 91% rating given to the Japanese import Demon’s Souls (Issue 182), as after months of waiting, it finally became available via a local gaming store and it has not disappointed. Cheers.