Details of a Thanksgiving Feast

I conducted this project as part of Professor Pringle’s EEB321 class at Princeton University. I took my foldscope home for Thanksgiving break — on campus, I could image a leaf, the dust in my dorm room, maybe even a dead lanternfly if I was lucky, but I knew my fridge would be stocked with fresh food for the holiday, and decided to give that a try. I was drawn to the beautiful patterning of parsley leaves (pictured above), and wondered if this might be replicated on a molecular level.

My experience with the foldscope was positive…right until the end. I had no trouble constructing it or making the slides, and was really excited by all the images I’d seen from my classmates and online. Unfortunately — and I have yet to discover the cause of this malfunction — the actual process of imaging did not turn out as I expected. I think it is likely an issue with focusing, but having played around with using different cameras, light, focus distances, and just about every other variable I could come up with, I did not get to the root of the problem.

This was the image I was able to take. You can see faint outlines of something, but I couldn’t get it any more focused than this!

Outside of this assignment, I’m excited to keep trying with the foldscope. It’s a really exciting and fun idea (my family loved it!) and once I get the hang of it, I can imagine myself using it out of curiosity quite a bit. For now, though, parsley remains a green leafy mystery.

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