Foldscope via Kickstarter
Foldscope via Kickstarter

You Can Now Buy Your Own Origami Microscope

Foldscope via Kickstarter
Foldscope via Kickstarter

Inexpensive paper microscopes may be headed for a classroom near you—and you can buy one too. Several years ago, Stanford University researchers unveiled a microscope that can be built from a single piece of paper with an LED and a lens, allowing aspiring scientists to explore the micro world for less than a dollar. Now, a Kickstarter campaign is making Foldoscope’s technology available to consumers ahead of the product’s wider commercial release, as Popular Science reports.

The origami microscope comes with a glass lens that boasts a high enough magnification to see red blood cells and watch live bacteria, at 140 times magnification and a two-micron resolution. The Kickstarter kit comes with associated lab tools like microscope slides and tweezers. The Foldoscope is also compatible with a smartphone, so you can take videos and photos of the amazing stuff you see on those microscope slides, and the kit comes with a cellphone clip to make that process even easier.

Your kit won’t cost as little as $1, though. At the classroom scale, the company can sell the packs cheaply, but for individual consumers, the Kickstarter kits start around $18, reflecting the cost of the extra tools. However, teachers can currently buy 20 packs of microscopes for just $25, or you can donate the classroom kit to a school (scheduled for August 2017 delivery). The makers of Foldoscope hope to sell 1 million microscopes next year.

If you’re stingy, you can always use your own paper at home create a Foldoscope for free, but for most people, it’s easier to just shell out for the pre-folded kit. Regardless, see how the devices are made in the video below:
 

 
[h/t Popular Science]

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Scientists Have Launched an Earthquake Emoji Design Competition
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There’s no denying that emojis have changed the way we communicate. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words—and sometimes a thumbs up or crying face emoji will suffice. But could an earthquake emoji help save lives?

A group of scientists thinks it certainly couldn’t hurt. As The Seattle Times reports, a self-proclaimed #emojiquake steering committee is hosting an open competition for emoji earthquake designs that could be used to swiftly spread news of an imminent earthquake to diverse populations.

“We need an emoji so we can communicate quickly with much larger groups of people,” Dr. Sara McBride, a disaster researcher who works with the U.S. Geological Survey, told The Seattle Times. “People can process pictures faster than words, and not everybody is fluent in English.”

As McBride pointed out on Twitter, there are existing emojis to represent other weather events—like tornados and cyclones—but none to depict an earthquake.

Social media has proven instrumental in alerting large populations about impending natural disasters, giving them time to seek shelter or take proper precautions. According to the BBC, Japan and Mexico both rely on earthquake alerts sent to their digital devices via early warning technology.

The winning design will be chosen by popular vote on Twitter, and the steering committee will work with Unicode Consortium—essentially the world’s emoji gatekeepers—to get the earthquake emoji approved for widespread use on phones, computers, and social media.

You don’t have to be a scientist or graphic designer to enter the contest. The committee has already received more than 40 submissions, but entries will be accepted until July 14. Designs can be emailed to emojiquake@gmail.com, but be sure to check out the guidelines and size specifications on the #emojiquake website.

[h/t The Seattle Times]

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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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