What happens when you get a group of bioengineering gurus from Stanford together? Foldscope. Making paper airplanes in class just went a notch further. Now, origami has met MacGyver, only MacGyver is Manu Prakash, a professor at Stanford University. Prakash and his students have gotten extremely creative with their latest science project. Yahoo News says they have “developed a microscope out of a flat sheet of paper, a watch battery, LED, and optical units that when folded together, much like origami, creates a functional instrument with the resolution of 800 nanometers – basically magnifying an object up to 2,000 times.” The optical units used are similar to the size of grains of sand.
With this type of magnification from the Foldscope, diseases, harmful organisms, and parasites, including dangerous microbial diseases like malaria, African sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis, Chagas and more, could be detected far earlier than anyone could imagine, states Wikipedia. An incredible number of lives could be saved. It is almost hard to fathom how something made so simply could work such wonders. Makezine.com claims it is the unique shape of the spherical lens that is the key and what sets it apart. They continue to explain how to use the Foldscope by holding the micro-lens up to your eye, so that your eyebrow is touching the paper. By holding each end with your fingers, you locate and focus on your object by sliding the platform as needed until your target is in focus. Easy enough for young children to use. It’s all about getting back to the basics.
One of the benefits of the Foldscope is its low cost to manufacture. The Foldscope costs between 50 cents and $1 to build. It is also very user friendly. It weighs about the amount of two nickels, no external power is necessary, and is virtually indestructible, and Foldscope.com even says it can be dropped from a 3-story building and even stepped on, and it will still work.
Prakash has had several supporters, such as Bill Gates, to financially back his project. Wikipedia reports the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded the “Ten Thousand Microscopes” project under which Prakash plans to give away 10,000 Foldscope kits to interested parties, including students for research.”
For Prakash, his dream and goal is for young students to begin to have a love for science at a young age, and by using Foldscope, they could begin researching and discovering much earlier in life. His plan is by August 2014 to have 10 thousand kits sent out to those who have that drive, determination and love for research. You can learn more about how you or your student could possibly receive one of the kits by visiting their website at Foldscope.com. Eventually, with each kit being so easy to assemble with color coded directions on the paper, and simple instructions, students all over will have a Foldscope in their pocket.