Through the Looking Glass: A $1 Paper Microscope


I heard an interview with the inventor on NPR last week and had to pull over to jot down the term “fold scope” lest I forget. I really don’t think I would have forgotten after all, since this fellow from Stanford is not only a mechanical genius, but also expressed in his NPR interview that kind of science-education hopes that resonate with me.

And above all, he holds great stock in the role that curiosity and discovery must play in our lives as science-and-nature literate citizens of a planet that could be known and cared for far better than my generation has accomplished.

There are certainly very practical applications where, in third world countries, few research scopes are available to determine the nature of disease outbreak. Now even small village hospitals can see malaria and other pathogens quickly and begin life-saving treatments.

If this leaves you cold, then we are cut out of different stock.

I don’t think these devices are being sold commercially yet, and when they are, I’m betting the price will be well beyond a buck.

A $1 Microscope Folds From Paper With A Drop Of Glue | NPR

Stanford Biologist Invents Ultra Low Cost Scientific Tools : NPR

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. What a wonderful invention – and you’re right again – one that could help save lives around the world. Let’s hope greed and profiteering don’t win out.