It’s raining caterpillars!

Currently at Stanford, it’s literally raining caterpillars. Apparently, once every few years, there are population booms of Western Tussock Moth larvae http://bgm.stanford.edu/groups/grounds/ipm/tussock. If you’re in the wrong spot, you’ll end up covered in these guys as they fall from the trees. Of course, I couldn’t wait to put one of these guys under a Foldscope,…

Purple sand – Different ways to view color in your samples

This is a sample I’ve been holding on to for more than half a year, because until today I haven’t been able to image it to my satisfaction. Julia Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, CA is known for its amazing coastal features, like the Keyhole Arch. Unfortunately this particular feature doesn’t fit under a Foldscope….

Focus stacking and image stitching

    Inspired by Manu’s previous post regarding focus stacking (https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=7830), I decided to try out the technique myself. Since I was testing a focus locking prototype of the Foldscope, it was very easy for me to progress through a series of focal lengths. For my first attempt, I imaged the remnants of a bryozoan colony…

What’s inside of a Mexican jumping bean?

Even though I have lived in California for more than a decade, I have never visited Mexico until a week ago. Countless gift shops aimed at tourists lined the streets of Ensenada, but one peculiar item caught my eye: Mexican jumping beans. I had to find out for myself what animal inside caused these beans to…

Blood flow through a spider’s leg

      Here’s a phenomenon that is perplexing me, but perhaps the answer is simple. The legs of small spiders are so thin that you can often see the “blood” or hemolymph flowing through them with the Foldscope. Though this is visible even in low magnification, here I took a closer look with the…

Foldscope instructions translated in Swahili

Foldscope Instructions Swahili Continuing our series of instruction translations, here are the Foldscope instructions in Swahili. Thank you to Ola Jahanpour for the translation.

A food web in a fluid droplet (algae, rotifers, and anemone)

In my ongoing quest to explore marine microfauna, I recently observed rotifers under a Foldscope. Like many motile marine invertebrates, rotifers use cilia to maneuver through the water column. They also use these cilia to feed by generating currents.  The anterior end of the animal is in the top right of the pictures, and there…

Hunting for tardigrades (water bears)

For as long as I’ve owned a Foldscope, there’s been one animal that I’ve been trying to image in vain. Namely, the tardigrade (or water bear). These extreme animals (that resemble microscopic, 8-legged pigs) can live for years without food or water and can even survive outer space!   This week, I was able to…

microbeads (which unexpectedly act like lenses)

  In order to investigate the resolution of the Foldscope when paired to my particular phone (an LG G4), I seeded a slide with 45 micron and 6 micron polystrene beads. Below are images taken in dark field (top) and bright field (bottom). The 140x lens has a theoretical resolution of about 2 microns, so,…

C. elegans in bright field and dark field

Thanks to an ongoing experiment, the lab is flooded with animals! The animal du jour is everyone’s favorite model organism, the nematode C. elegans.  The trouble with imaging C. elegans under the Foldscope is that they are (1) very small, (2) mostly transparent, and (3) highly mobile (Most of the time. See the video at the…

Focus-locking Foldscopes (in the works!)

Have any of you had this difficulty with the Foldscope? After scanning your sample for a few minutes, you find an awesome micro-structure you’ve never seen before. Excitedly, you hand your Foldscope to a friend so they can see it too, and they see… nothing. Not only has the sample gone out of focus, but the lens has…

Symbiosis!

Aiptasia are unusual beasts. To a naive eye, these palm-like anemone could easily be confused for plants. In fact, aquarists often refer to them as weeds, owing to their ability to rapidly grow and multiply in seawater aquaria. These creatures are most definitely animals. However, they do serve as a home for photosynthetic algae (dinoflagellates). In…

Tattooed skin – putting a human under a Foldscope?

I received a call out of the blue from a good friend of mine. He was driving up from Los Angeles to the bay area, because, apparently, one of his favorite tattoo artists was secretly working out of a parlor in San Jose for only 1 week! My friend was tipped off by some cryptic remark that…

The gritty truth about pears

While visiting a friend’s home, I noticed they had a pear tree. I instantly had a flashback to a botany lesson from an old biology course. Pears have a peculiar texture, one that is often described as “gritty”. This texture is caused by the stone cells present in the fruit’s flesh.   I sliced a thin section of…

The Foldscope tree of life

Above is the tree of life, so far, as chronicled by our amazing Foldscope community! Currently represented in our 800+ posts so far are over 150 species from over 75 orders. I hope you take a second to find the small space that we occupy on this tree and appreciate the vast diversity of microstructures…

Barnacle feeding legs

Harbors and rocky shorelines are often littered with barnacle tests (or shells), yet relatively few people have actually seen the animals that live inside of  these dome-shaped homes.  Here’s some high-speed footage that I took of a barnacle feeding in a wave. Barnacles are crustaceans, so they are related to animals such as crabs and lobsters.  They are in…

Foldscope at the beach in Hawaii

As a marine biologist on vacation, the first place I wanted to try out my new Foldscope was of course at the beach! While most visitors at Laniakea Beach are enthralled by the sea turtles that come to shore, I noticed that the shore had a peculiar structure. The wave-swept portion of this otherwise sandy…