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The Mega Scope of Paper Microscope!

The Mega Scope of Paper Microscope!

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Hanuman did not know that the world is teeming with life that his eyes cannot see, so Professor Tung Tang made him see all that through a portable paper microscope

It was a bright, sunny day. Professor Tung Tang sat in his garden peering through a sort of cardboard box when 12 year-old Kiran pushed open the garden gate.

“What is that professor?” Kiran asked, running to him, keen to learn about the maverick scientist’s new-found interest.

“It is a paper microscope that my friend from the US has sent me,” Professor said, still peering at the cardboard box.

Kiran’s brother, our dear dumpling-jumping Hanuman, was perched upon the Neem tree by now and looked down to find out what was drawing both his sister and the professor’s attention.

His sister’s little head was bobbing up and down as she deftly made folds of the paper microscope and then tried to see if it yielded any result.

The professor was helping his sister look through the cardboard.

“What are both of you looking at?” Hanuman asked.

“This is a microscope,” Professor Tung Tang looked up.

Hanuman remembered his sister showing him the picture of a microscope.

“But microscopes are not that tiny,” Hanuman was intrigued, looking down from the tree.

“Not usually, but this one made out of paper-folds by an Indian professor at Princeton University in USA, is that way. My friend’s name is Professor Manu Prakash.

“He created this instrument so that we can easily carry it around to the tiny creatures we peer at through it and so that it can cost less,” the Professor – who usually spoke little but with these two kids, elaborated.

“But how does the microscope help us see such tiny objects?” Hanuman seemed interested. He clambered down the Neem tree.

That’s the job a microscope does. Using very precisely made glass lenses, it takes the minutely separated light rays coming from something tiny (like a butterfly’s eye) and spreads them apart so they appear to be coming from a much bigger object

“Did I not tell you that a microscope is a tube packed with curved pieces of glass called lenses? The lenses bend the light that passes through them and make the image of the tiny object larger,” Kiran reprimanded her brother, irritated at being disturbed from her journey into the micro world.

While Hanuman was making faces at her sister, Professor Tung Tang interrupted their fight.

“Just look at the beautiful butterfly sitting on the flower. The eye on the front of its head is just a few millimeters across, but it’s made up of around 6,000 tiny segments, each one a tiny, functioning eye in miniature.

“To see a butterfly’s eye in detail, our own eyes would need to be able to process the details that are tiny segments divided into thousands of parts.

“Your eyes may be good, but they’re not that good. To study a butterfly’s eye really well, you’d need to make it the sort of size it would be in a nice big photo.

“That’s the job a microscope does. Using very precisely made glass lenses, it takes the minutely separated light rays coming from something tiny (like a butterfly’s eye) and spreads them apart so they appear to be coming from a much bigger object.”

Now that Hanuman had climbed down from the tree, he was curious: “Can I take a look?” he sat down on the ground.

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Kiran helped him take a look, even as the professor kept looking at some soil sample through another microscope set and kept muttering aloud: “Microscopes shed new light on the teeny tiny and make the invisible, visible.

“They’ve played an enormous part in science by taking us deep into worlds we’ve come to think of as microscopic.

“Just as telescopes scale us up to meet the planets and stars, so microscopes scale us down into the tiny world of atoms and cells.

“Even the branch you were hanging from till now is buzzing with life, turning sunlight into food and moving that to all parts of the plant all day long.

“Mold is slowly gobbling up the apples in your fruit bowl. Your bed is creeping with dust mites. The air is packed with pollen,” Kiran took over, helping her brother to take peep into the tiny world.

As Hanuman peeped into a disparate mesh of scum he thought: “There are so many things happening all around us, all the time that are far too tiny for our poor eyes to see”.

For Hanuman, that was an entire new vision of life and all that cannot be seen in it!

Besides, you see, it did not take a huge and complicated ‘propah’ microscope. The tiny, paper microscope invented by Professor Manu Prakash would do.

And so Hanuman decided that tomorrow he will take it with him up the Neem tree and have a mega look at the micro-mini insects that disturb him up there!

Also Read: Hanuman’s Yachhooo and Mangoes

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