Biodiversity in an old flower vase in my yard

To celebrate biodiversity day, I am sharing a few observations that I made from a mini-zoo in my yard. This is inspired by both laks and manu who regularly create long-term cultures and follow them to observe how life evolves in a mini-ecosystem.  Here’s the old vase that I let fill with rainwater a few…

Bizarre Tetrahedron diatom from bedwell bayfront park

I drove a fellow lab-mate to collect samples from the bedwell bayfront park. I did some collections myself and observed the most bizarre diatom that I have ever seen. I’m calling it a tetrahedron but not sure if that’s right. If anyone can help id this  beast,that would be much appreciated! I first saw this…

Loch Ness micro-monsters. (Diatoms)

A few weeks ago, Julie F. shared with me another bottle of water sample that her generous friend Kathy had brought. This time the sample was from Loch Ness (Lake Ness) in Scotland. If you recall, this is the same duo who had previously shared samples from the Ganges River in India. Kathy seems to…

Ganges River microbial diversity

I received a strange message from a colleague at Stanford (Julie F.). She reached out to me via Facebook and said that a friend of hers (Kathy H.) had returned from a Fulbright scholarship in India and had brought a bottle of Ganges River water with her, obtained from Varanasi. Kat is a teacher at…

Getting the microcosmos posts into your inbox..

Dear Foldscope community, I thought I would share a trick I use to get all new posts, comments (new and on old posts) on any post on the microcosmos website, straight into your email inbox. 1. Go to https://blogtrottr.com 2. Add https://microcosmos.foldscope.com and your email address, 3. Sign up for BOTH the posts feed and the comments…

What do ducks feed on? And how?

I was on the Carmel beach and observed a couple of mallards feeding. They were at the edge of the water and would wait for the tide to come in. As soon as the waves would break on the beach, they would peck away, till the next wave. Curious as to what they were feeding…

Marine water life: rotifers, ciliates, diatoms and bacteria 

I took another drop of water from the sea water table. This almost feels like a game. Every time I pull out a drop of water and peer into the foldscope I observe new tumbling motions, new shapes and colors. I believe these are rotifers (or ciliates). @laks and @manup, can you confirm? I distinctly…

Unidentified objects in Marine water sample

For the last couple of days, I’ve been doing experiments with picking up droplets of water from different parts of the sea water table (which is full of different Marine organisms) at the Hopkins Marine station. I’ve found the following puzzling things which I would love help in identification. Puzzle 1: The first are these…

Marine ciliate that teleports (jumps) from Hopkins Marine station

Yesterday, scraping from the bottom of the sea water table, I found these mysterious jumping ciliates? I’m calling them ciliates since Manu has found some in the past.. Here’s a first video of 2 of them in sync with gif. It was so beautiful to watch them go. If someone can ID them (@laks, @manup)…

Ribbon worm – day 3 at Hopkins

I identified the ribbon worm as it was swimming on the air-water interface. Based on it swimming and sinking behavior, i am guessing it is negatively buoyant, but it is a mystery to me how it kept itself attached to the air-water interface. Unfortunately, I did not take an image before, but on touching it…

Skeleton Shrimp (Caprella) – day 2 of Hopkins course

Today i managed to put it in a skeleton shrimp in my foldscope. Here’s a video showing blood flowing through the shrimp. It’s incredible. You can see individual hemocytes speeding along. I took a longer video with H, who studies these Caprella as a model organism, and she explained different features to us, including spotting…

Fertilization of sand dollar eggs (Dendraster Excentricus)

Today is day 1 of the Hopkins marine biology course. We injected 5 molar KCL into the oral cavity of the Sand dollar organism and within minutes, from the non-oral side (opposite), either eggs or sperm were released. There is no way to physically distinguish between male and female sand dollars, but you can identify…

Live Mealworms eating plastic

This is probably the most bizarre and coolest organism I’ve ever seen under a foldscope. It’s a mealworm that eats Styrofoam (and other plastic) and degrades into biodegradable waste. I’d read about these worms on the Stanford website, so when the researchers (Wei-min, Craig , Anja and Shandhan) who discovered them invited us to take…

Foldscope live demo of living organism

I had the opportunity last week to present in front of few dozen industrial scientists visiting stanford. The catch was I only had less than 10 minutes! If I had to share one way that the foldscope really has changed the way I think about life : I’d choose the fact that it provides a…

Dead on arrival- Pus under the scope. 

We’ve all encountered pus on our bodies at one point on another. It usually occurs at a site of inflammation. It’s a whitish-yellow, viscous liquid. So what’s inside the pus liquid? Let’s find out. Here’s a slide with a sample of pus. Here’s a first look under the scope. All those tiny cells are dead…

The hunt for white blood cells..

This is a second part of exploring what lies in our bodies using the foldscope. Apart from the obvious utility in seeing what we’re made off, I also think this is a useful collection of experiments that you can use at any place or time for a quick foldscope demonstration. The last experiment was with…

Cheek cells.

It’s always fun to revisit simple experiments and test it out with the foldscope. In this post, I wanted to see my own cheek cells. Now, if you search on the microcosmos website, you’ll come across many posts on cheek cells, but I hope to share one interesting insight, making the case that it’s worthwhile…

Bacteria in decomposing matter

I’ve always wanted to see bacteria through the foldscope. As obvious as it may be, I’d never seen bacteria in decomposing matter with my own eyes. So, after a plant in my house died, I put it a jar and let in decompose for a week in tap water. I took a drop out, and…

Paramecium and other ciliates

I started my first ciliate culture today. Here’s a first peek at the culture- you should notice tiny bacteria swimming around and some hay.   I quickly spotted my first ciliate – this is a paramecium  – as can be identified by its characteristic ‘slipper’ shape. You can clearly see the hundreds of cilia lining…

In fall. When leaves fall..

It’s finally fall in California. And the leaves are falling. I couldn’t help but ask myself some questions about why and what causes the leaves to fall. In addition, they were changing colors as well, so I wondered if they changing colors would reveal a changing morphology or indicate a predominantly compositional change. So I…

Copepod egg sac

This is a meta learning post of how the foldscope contributes to my learning and growth, which I felt was worth sharing. From the same Hopkins trip where I found the nudibranch eggs, I also was able to find Copepods swimming in the ocean water sample. I took two videos exactly and couldn’t make head…

Advice on imaging a snail 

I’m quite curious about imaging the underside of a snail – I’ve seen them crawl upside down and even submerged in water- some questions I have. What microstructure do they have that enables such great adhesion? How do they breath under water? Do they have eyes? Can they sense light? How big are they -end…

Viscoelastic egg sacs of a hooded nudibranch (melibe leonina)

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit the Hopkins Marine station. Some of the students had gone on a dive and brought back specimens from a coral reef. Snooping around their tank, I observed them trying to record the swimming dynamics of this beautiful creature. Upon asking, I learnt that its called…

As a scientist, why i’m excited about the Foldscope

I just posted an article on my personal blog Re-posting here for the microcosmos community to enjoy. ————–     The foldscope is a ultra-low cost microscope (less than a dollar) that you can literally carry anywhere in your pocket. It was invented in the PrakashLab at Stanford. If you google it, you will find…

darkfield + timelapse on c. elegan eggs

With Tom’s help, I was able to do my first timelapse experiment on the foldscope, that too in dark-field. Please look at Tom’s post for instructions to setup the dark-field modality here. For any Foldscope user (or microscope user for that matter), I think the first Aha! moment is when you see your first image…

Teeth scrapings. Tribute to Anton van Leeuwenhoek 

  On September 17th 1683, van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society describing moving ‘animals’ (bacteria) in the plaque between his teeth. It struck me that today was sept 17th as well and as a tribute, I roped Matt (only person around) to help me find a toothpick and got to work. If you watch…