Through a One Dollar Looking Glass

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch tradesman and scientist who is commonly known as "the Father of Microbiology." He is best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology.

A Foldscope is an optical microscope that can be assembled very inexpensively from a punched sheet of cardstock, a spherical lens, a light emitting diode, a diffuser panel, and a watch battery that powers the LED.

As inexpensive as it is, it can magnify up to 2000 times which is enough to enable you to see organisms such as E. coli or a face mite that was living in one of your pores (quite scary and yet quite normal).

It was developed by a team at PrakashLab at Stanford University. They have been looking on "democratizing science" by developing tools that can scale up to match problems in global health and science education.

I read about the Foldscope on and how with some grant money, Manu Prakash and his graduate students launched an experiment in mass microscopy by mailing 50,000 free Foldscopes to volunteer testers in more than 130 countries.

Foldscope Explore is a site where testers share photos, videos, and commentary. There are posts from plant pathologists, very young students, entomologists and citizen scientists.


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