Where ants come from?

I am often perplexed with how many ants I have in my house. If someone could dissolve the whole house but the ants; I think you will still see a skeleton of my house made out of ants. Anyway, I love ants – so I have no problem. My family, not so much. So while…

How ticks come for a ride? 

This is a story of an animal that is a master of hitching a free ride on you; even if you like it or don’t. I am talking about ticks. With all the challenges with Lyme disease – it’s something that all of us should take seriously.  On a beach in Northern California – I…

Kelilalina high school, Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar

With our partners at PIVOT, CVB and Stanford; we had an incredible opportunity to run large scale workshops in schools in Madagascar. We were fortunate that the workshop was documented by an incredible Japanese crew that documented this. I am quickly sharing this video; that allows you to see what it takes to run an…

Fungal spores and outdoors microscopy

I have a little tin can sitting outside in my backyard. Clearly I was not paying attention and with the rains, it got filled up with water. A week or so later; I saw an incredible “yellow” growth inside. This was a fun opportunity for me to look what’s actually growing. I am also using…

Foldscope on the breakfast table – Dracula orchid

Often the biggest surprises come from places you least expect them. Our dinning tables are often such a source. Sitting down with two TED fellows Neo and Wayne; we had a wonderful conversation until our eyes landed on this beautiful orchid on our breakfast table – a red “dracula blood red orchid”. Now it might…

Comparing outdoors vs table lamp based illumination 

Here I compare outdoors afternoon light as illumination with a regular table lamp illumination; to give foldscope users a perspective on how to select light. Also; I tried an informal narration mode in the video itself. I will do more of these live narration videos to both improve my craft of telling a story on…

Gliding Cyanobacteria – duck pond 

Continuing on samples from the duck pond; here is a video of a gliding Cyanobacteria (possibly oscillatoria). Many fascinating things to see here; speciallyvthe slpw gliding motility which has often been a puzzle in science to uncover. What’s more fascinating is that this gliding trajectory is chiral – and the long filamentous cells are also…

Unknown giant ciliate with colored “vacuole” bodies 

In the same location as last week (Duck pond swamps); Scott, Guillermina and TA’s from Bio60 uncovered a treasure trove of microcorganisms. Here I will list what I have images so far; in a serial fashion.  First up is this beautiful giant ciliate. Over several hours of imaging; it had slowed down its swimming speed…

Traveling kinks – imaging bacteria under a foldscope 

A million surprises are hidden right under our nose (or foot); all we often need to do is just look. And follow our nose (I mean intuition) and answers fall out of the sky. This is an optimists view of science. Let’s make good and careful observations..  At the same swamp (Duck pond swamp, Palo…

Surprise/quiz mystery object 

Dear Foldscope community,  Once a while out in the wild; we see something that really blows our mind. It’s even better when it’s at a microscopic scale.  Here is a question for all of you – try to guess what this is. Just for length scale – this is an object that’s 100um or so. …

Further adventures at lake Lagunita

With rains pouring upon us (which is a good thing for California); we decided to meet at Lake Lagunita for a quick Foldscope session. I had never seen lake Laguinta filled before (remember my past post about finding spider eggs in lake Laguinta here: https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=7652)  Today morning was a different story. We gathered at the…

Pollen ropes

I made a surprising discovery while eating dinner today. My mom mounted some flowers on the dinner table; which she had plucked from the street. They are beautiful – and although everyone is eating dinner, I can’t focus on my food since something is bothering me about this flower. See for yourself!!  You see the…

Mirrors on the wings – story of Gulf Fritillary

On my usual walk outside with kids; I was met with a visual so stunningly beautiful.  I rubbed my eyes to believe what I had in front of me. An almost motionless butterfly glistening in the sun; shinning with mirrors on its wings. Let me repeat; yes “mirrors on the wings”.  To my advantage, the…

A “drying” Trichome 

Do cells dry out? That would not be a good thing. Take plant cells for example – exposed to the environment all the time; what if the cells just lost all the water and dried out. That’s the puzzle we will explore today.  On a walk in the early morning;  I came across a plant…

Oh, what’s that growing inside my foot. Story of Tunga penetrans 

When you cross through an airport security line; you are often asked if you are carrying any insects or plants. Knowingly, we are not carrying anything back – but what about biodiversity traveling back with you unknowingly. This is the story of Tunga penetrans; one of the smallest fleas that recently hitched a ride in…

Field notes from Madagascar – part 1 

In this series of documents; I will share travel notes from recent foldscope workshops in Madagascar.  I am on my long journey back home from Madagascar. It takes almost 35 hours to get back home – not even counting the long road journey of 12 hours to get to the field station from the capital…

Puzzles of acoelomorpha – identify species?

I like simple things. So to find this simple animal under my Foldscope was quiet a delight. I collected it in brackish waters in San Francisco. At first site; it almost looks like a flatworm; say a planaria. But lookig closely – I think it might be Acoel. Watch for yourself: Another view of the…

Small World (life in a dish)

Sept 17, 2016 – This is a video filled (less text) style – sharing some old data I had collected from Stern Groves: Dec 2015- I live next to Stern Grove, which has a small pond. Many months back; I had gotten a small pool of water from the same. The small dish had a…

How to post a gif

I am testing a simple method to post a gif. Sometimes videos are too long to upload. But simple apps exist to covert a section of a video into a small gif that can be labeled and uploaded as a small file.  Here is an example. This was made using app called ImgPlay.  This is…

How to image individual bacteria with a Foldscope 

Often in our day to day conversations – germs and specifically bacteria come up. I overhear a mom tell a 4 year old; wash your hands or the bacteria will make you sick. Or; don’t eat the yummy toast you dropped on the floor because the bacteria are on it now. Why doesn’t anyone just…

Foldscope meets protocols.io

I was delighted to have a chance meeting with Dr. Lenny Teytelman – cofounder of protocols.io. I have been thinking a lot about marriage of two worlds – a free flowing story telling style of posts we encourage every user to write and a structured “methods/protocols” section making everyone experiments repeatable by any other foldscope…

Ciliates in our backyards – Suctorians 

Amongst enigmatic ciliates you will discover through your Foldscope; Suctorians hold a special place. Strangely looking like stars – in the first look they don’t seem to be doing anything. They just sit; and wait.  But in this patient wait lies a secret.. Capability to capture and eat many other ciliates by a mere touch….

Ciliates in our backyards – Euplotes 

After following notes from @Laks on hay cultures.. Culturing ciliates: The Hay Infusion, Day 8 I decided to create my own hay cultures; and watched them grow. It’s been fascinating to see the cultures grow; and I see new things almost on a daily basis.  I want to quickly share possibly the largest Euplotes I…

Tails of spring – springtails!

At the BioX science day today; we setup a PrakashLab booth where everyone could come and talk to lab members. Although; things started slowly – eventually it picked up pace. During this time; Christine caught a fantastic sample which – from first glance – looked like an ant. It was alive and stuck to tape…

Ant on a wire (hair) 

I love tools. The right tool for the right job makes all the difference. But sometimes you have to invent tools. And that’s so much fun; since if it does not work well – you can blame yourself and start all over again.  Here I share a simple method to mount small insects (say an…

Identifying ciliates – guide key 

It’s a thrill to find an organism in a natural setting ; and wonder if it’s something science and human society knows about or an undescribed, never before seen species. As a young Foldscope scientists, early on, you should not worry too much about this fact – since you are making discoveries without others telling…

What else I found in my flower pot – wriggling insect larvae? 

I found another stranger in the flower pot I had described before. It crawls around on leaves and is quiet large. What I noticed is a “deep red” digestive track and two tracheal tubes running down the center. I was intrigued and decided to Foldscope it.  Now, what I am surprised with is the fact…