Field of Science

Microscopy for the Masses

Microscopes are amazing tools! I had a small plastic one as a kid and I loved exploring items I collected outdoors. Parts of plants, a scoop of soil, basically anything I could get my hands on I mounted up on a slide and looked at under my microscope. That is one aspect that drew me to study mosses. Microscopes are an essential tool to identify moss species and the closer you look at mosses the more amazing features you uncover!  

My family is well aware of my love of microscopes and my sister recently sent me a link to this TED talk about a microscope made almost entirely of paper that costs around 50 cents to produce. It is a really inspirational talk and I think that these scopes are going to revolutionize microscopy. 

I completely agree with the assessment that traditional microscopes are much too bulky for the field. When I head out to collect mosses I don't take my microscopes with me. I bring the mosses back to my microscopes, which stay at home or in the lab. I think that foldscopes would be a great way to take moss identification into the field and enable identification to species without bulky microscopes or having to wait until returning to the laboratory. 

I thought about submitting an application for the 10,000 Microscope Project, focusing on outreach to the public and exploring mosses in the field, but life became busy and it slipped off my priority list. I will definitely have to get a proposal put together for the next round of testing. I think that these scopes would be a great way to introduce people to mosses and enable exploration and identification without a costly setup. 

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