Manu Prakash on microscopy for everyone
The O’Reilly Hardware Podcast: Building tools for a curiosity-driven community.
Manu Prakash, a bioengineering professor at Stanford University, talks about radically inexpensive microscopes and the democratization of discovery in this episode of the Hardware Podcast. Prakash’s Foldscope is a “completely functional, foldable, origami microscope.” He says that “every kid in the world should carry a microscope in their pocket,” and so far, more than 50,000 Foldscopes (the parts of which cost only $1) have been shipped to more than 130 countries.
You’ll hear the “audio demo” of Foldscape that Prakash gave us, explaining the instrument’s paper, circuit board, and lens, plus the philosophy behind his mission to promote curiosity-driven observation and “make microscopy a dinner conversation.”
- The Foldscope community website
- Watching individual bacteria under a Foldscope
- Glasswings butterflies from Ecuador, viewed under a Foldscope
- Prakash’s images of Psyllids and amazing things they do
This week’s click spirals:
- Jon Bruner: Two fascinating artifacts of early-20th-century recreation around San Francisco: the ocean-fed Sutro Baths, and the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway, whose trains coasted by gravity down “the crookedest railway in the world.”
- David Cranor: Charcoal—what it is, how it’s made, and its history, including the fact that the Kingsford Charcoal company started as an offshoot of the Ford Motor Company, using wood scraps from the production of Model T cars.
- Manu Prakash: A psyllid insect embedded in the bottom of a leaf, and a plant’s response to it