Water Sampling at Arroyo Seco, Los Padres National Forest

This past weekend, we (Erika and myself) escaped grad student work at Berkeley to go camping in the Los Padres National Forest in the hills east of Big Sur. We stayed in the Arroyo Seco area, which you reach by driving south of Monterey through wine country, and then cutting west into the forest. On…

The Spots on Ferns – SF Conservatory of Flowers, continued….

Ferns are one of my favorite plants. In fact, my very first Microcosmos post concerned the very same. At our Foldscope workshop at SF Conservatory of Flowers this past Saturday (original post here), we took a closer look at those spots you see on the underside of ferns, which are sori, the spore-producing components of…

Foldscope at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers!

This past weekend, myself (Max) and Honomi Ijima from the Foldscope team had the pleasure of hosting a free outdoor public workshop at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, where you can find many more natural wonders beyond the world of flowers. We were delighted to co-host with Drew Risner-Davis, an exhibit manager and ace…

Hoja-ma-care: A Diagnosis of a Sick Leaf, Part 1

Hello Foldscope community! I always find fascinating discoveries through the Foldscope, and it seems like it is something new every time. However, I wanted to put a new challenge to myself and bore down further into a single research question, to push the limits of how far I can go with Foldscope and other DIY/frugal science…

What’s Going on in Berkeley?

Found this little creature in Lake Anza in Tilden Park…trapped in a PVC well…imaging done with new focus-locking prototype of Foldscope, and specimen collected with various tools from the forthcoming Foldscope Deluxe Individual Kit (www.foldscope.com/order)…more details and methods to come…

A Spider Heart and a Fish Egg(?)

I am up in Grass Valley, CA visiting an aunt and uncle that live on 7 acres here. On their property is a beautiful fish pond, and the day I arrived I was told that the fish were spawning. I sampled the water from the shallows where they are spawning, and believe I found an egg…

Snapshots of the Microcosmos!

Hello Foldscope community, Microcosmos continually amazes me. In fact, it amazes me in at least three ways: the biology (and other science) that users discover and capture is beautiful and fascinating the technological innovations and hacks that users invent are ingenious the variety of global locations from which posts are made is inspiring and eye-opening…

Foldscope Challenges – Building Skills and Encouraging Exploration

Microscopy transports us to almost another world entirely – in this “alternate” reality, we find so much that is new. But like traveling to any place, the experience can be both thrilling and overwhelming. No matter how many guide books you read or phrase books you keep in your back pocket, there are no hard and…

The Power of Concentration

My favorite Foldscope experiment is simple: collect pond or lake water and find out what is inside. It is perhaps THE classic microscopy experiment since the days of Leeuwenhoek. Discovering the strange life inside of a single drop of water is always satisfying. I recently visited Lake Anza in Berkeley’s Tilden Park to collect water…

Foldscope Featured on “Wag of the Tale”

At the end of July, I made the smart decision of kicking a bunch of chores down the road and getting out to Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA, for a BioBlitz run by the California Center for Natural History (http://calnature.org). I met a bunch of wonderful people and had a lot of fun exploring America’s…

Bean-Shaped Ciliates – help ID?

I have always found a lot of humour in observing the behavior of  macroscopic animals. I can’t say why certain things are funny – the way a cat yawns, or a penguin waddles – but I like the simplicity and concreteness of this humor, the lack of punchline. One unexpected delight of observing the Microcosmos…

Hungry hungry Vorticella

This week I spent some time imaging Vorticella ciliates, lazy little couch potatoes (or algae potatoes?) that anchor themselves to something solid and wait for their prey to come swimming by. Because of their stationary lifestyle, they are easy to find in water samples, and gave me a good chance to practice my Foldscoping technique,…

Creatures of Stow Lake

It’s beautiful to go to Stow Lake, in San Francisco’s golden gate park, in the early morning. The mist is often thick and troupes of ducks idle at the waters edge. This morning I went to Stow lake to collect samples for my foldscope. I am a new foldscope user and hadn’t yet successfully mounted…

Foldscope Workshop in Masiphumelele

This past Saturday, I had the joy of bringing some Foldscopes to the Masiphumelele branch of Ikamva Youth near Cape Town, South Africa. Ikamva Youth is a non-profit dedicated to providing educational resources for high school students: they provide tutoring for their classes, career and college counseling, health/nutritional classes, and computer literacy training. They support…

A Tale of Two Ferns

I have been playing with my foldscope for just a few days but have already found so much that is fascinating. As a molecular biology researcher and student, it has been refreshing to shift my attention from designing the perfect, incisive experiment to simply being curious about the miniscule details within the things all around…