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IPFS News Link • Techno Gadgets

A Smartphone Microscope Gets the Ultimate Test: The Amazon

• http://www.wired.com, NICK STOCKTON

Good riddance. Last year, researchers debuted a pocket-sized origami microscope, and sent out 10,000 Foldscopes to scientists, students, and science enthusiasts around the world. One of these scientists used his Foldscope for his Amazonian research, and gave us some of his field data. As far as stress tests go, you can't get much nastier than squishing bugs onto slides while hiking through a muddy rainforest.

Microscopes are clunky enough, heavy enough, and fragile enough that there's rarely enough room for one in a field work inventory. Even worse, microscopes in the tropics are constantly assaulted by humidity, which allows fungi to grow on the lenses and tiny moving parts. "At one point there was a microscope at the research center, but it just got wrecked by jungle humidity," says Aaron Pomerantz, who studies insects at the Tambopata Research Center in the Peruvian rainforest.

To avoid those issues, scientists usually just ship home samples that look the most interesting—but that can be a serious drawback for medical experts in the developing world who are are trying to track, treat, and contain disease outbreaks.


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