Protein thin films and early morning coffee 

I always start my day with a cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s a regular coffee, and on good days I get to treat myself to a latte. The one thing I enjoy in a good latte is the foam. It’s surprising that the texture of foam makes a liquid taste so different. So, I recently…

Compounding a foldscope

Here is a problem that might adorn entrance examination tests someday. It originated in a dream that I had a few days ago. I suspect this dream was inspired by the SLR hack of the foldscope. The low power lens of the foldscope can magnify objects ~140 times. The low power of a typical compound…

Plants that breathe water from the “air” 

This is not a story of “fire breathing dragons” – because they don’t exist; but alas a story of “air breathing plants” which do exist and are an incredible answer to challenges that evolution solves to explore and “enjoy” new ecological niches. An ecological niche is described as an environmental setting that an organism adapts…

Blood Smear under the Foldscope

  This past summer, together with the industrious Yash Jawale (BS-MS 2013) at IISER Pune, we began assembling the Foldscope. The high-mag and low-mag lenses were our two options that we were playing around with. Having the first device was super-exciting. However getting a reasonable image took some learning. Frame-grabs from the videos are what…

Butterfly Wings – A World of Color

I’ve had the chance to observe some interesting organisms and structures with my Foldscope thus far and my new favorite subject is the butterfly wing. Butterflies and moths belong to the order Lepidoptera and all members have scales covering their bodies and wings (in Latin, lepis means scale and ptera means wing). With over 180,000 described species,…

Wing Scales & Structural vs Pigment Color

  In the Peruvian Amazon, one can find a stunning array of butterflies along the river banks during the day. But wait, that’s no butterfly! The beautiful green Lepidoptera in the image above is actually a diurnal moth in the family Uraniidae. These moths are commonly seen gathered at mud puddles where they lap up important nutrients…

Light transmission through flower petals

I just picked my morning coffee; and walking back the I noticed a tiny white flower shining like a beacon of light. I could not believe my eyes; it looked as if the flower was producing its own light. What was really happening was light was shining on the petals in a strange way. A…

Why is blood red?

Why is blood red? In the mean time, let’s pay attention to the last slide I made (with a little bit of water). I was hoping to image some crawling neutrophils (cells responsible to fight foreign elements that invade our bodies). I setup a time lapse with a drop of blood. I did not notice any…

Crack at a mystery of blood drops 

Why a drop of blood cracks? I don’t usually cook. When I cook, I can’t be stopped. So you can imagine a scenario, where I think I know what I am doing in the kitchen; but I really don’t. This scenario unfolded recently, and in the rush to chop some vegetables, I sliced my hand. Not…

Cough cough 

Do you know how many times you coughed today? Or sneezed.. And the days you don’t feel well or have a sore throat. It’s almost like an involuntary thing we just have to do to keep ourselves functioning well. Remarkably, a cough or sneeze is the very first behavior that ever evolved in multi-cellular animalsYes,…

March of the crystals

Inspired by the series of posts from the “frozen project” by a 6-year old and mom; I brought out my Vitamin C crystal bottle again. See Frozen project series here: http://microcosmos.foldscope.com/2015/05/20/the-frozen-project-the-conclusion/ @Laks and I have previously posted extensively on Vitamin C crystallization and also it’s biological implications [see post here] Now it was time for…

Foldscopes in iGEM

We are using the foldscopes to try and make synthetic biology easier.  Not every lab, particularly high school labs, have expensive fluorescent microscopes to be able to detect fluorescent gene expression. We have been using the Prakash Labs,( http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0098781 )paper to assemble our own.  Is anyone else out there using foldscopes as fluorescent detectors?  We’d love…

Foldscope focus stacking for high depth of field images

Microscopy always brings a challenge for imaging truly 3D subjects; since the depth of focus of most optical elements is small. Thus one choice you have as a microscopist is to squeeze something really flat in a slide – but this option will most likely kill and distort the sample you are trying to image….

Fitting a cheap webcam to the foldscope

Taking photos and movies with a mobile phone or tablet attached to the foldscape works very well and is great fun. Here I am looking for a cheaper alternative, so that I can let everyone have a go without worrying about the phone. I tried one of these cheap 640×480 pixel webcams with 6 LEDs,…

Throwie LED as Foldscope light source 

when we shipped the first batch of Foldscope; we made the decision of including only a limited number of light modules. The rational was to encourage users to do day-light outdoors microscopy. Since most of these packages were going to far away places; we were worried about if the battery might get screened.  Here I…

Bubbles propogating in proboscis of a live mosquito

I have a love and hate relationship with mosquitoes. They have been called a Winged Scourged and have a devastating effect on our society; for thousands of years. If you are interested in watching; here is a link to a beautiful 1943 “classic” commissioned by the US government who asked “Walt Disney” to make a…

Fabian Pease and the story of writing a text book on head of a pin!! 

I have been so lucky to meet Prof. Fabian Pease (almost by accident); an emeritus professor at Stanford. We hang out, drink coffee and chat science; and specially discuss “frugal science” and why the world needs scientific tools in the hands of everyone. I have learned so much from Fabian in a short period of…

Secondary presentations

Greetings again Foldscope community. About a month ago I posted about presenting the Foldscope to the Science faculty at my high school (I’m a teacher, not a student). It went great!! my colleagues are super excited and I’m presenting the foldscopes to 3 classes (AP/IB) later this week. I also have done some more work…

Foldscope Plan

The Foldscopes arrived a month ago and I shared them with a few fellow medical laboratory scientist. The plan was to see if we could put it together. It took about a half hour to assemble. We were happy to get in on this project and eager to get started. We were able to use…

Watching Vitamin C crystal grow – Inspired by Frozen

Updated (see note below)  By Manu and Laksiyer  This post will be written as a conversation between two people far away. Just like the originators of the Frozen project 🙂  Manu: Laks, did you know we have incredible group of contributors that started a series of “frozen” projects to explore crystal growth using Foldscope. I…

Fractals in a tear of plastic 

“Beauty of science is everywhere around us” – I was caught saying this phrase recently; and I wanted to share more of this beauty with everyone. This time I decided to look at the curious phenomena of what happens when you cut a piece of plastic film; but with a blunt object. Say you decide…

LED board troubleshoot/fix.

Hello – nothing looks melted or anything, but then again I don’t know what exactly it looked like before it stopped working.  I replaced the battery, but still no light.  It worked fine for a week of work, and was lit the last time we used it in our middle school science classes.  Have been…