It is November and where I live, we are in the midst of fall. Leaves are changing colors and the ground is getting covered in a blanket of leaves and acorns. I have always enjoyed looking at leaves in my Foldscope, and this year was no exception! My Foldscope Mini provided some gorgeous views of the color changing process. And for an added twist, I decided to also take a look at the acorns. Read on to learn how I used reflective lighting on my Foldscope 2.0 to get microscopic views of acorns!
What is Fall?
The first day of fall, or the Autumnal Equinox, in the northern hemisphere is usually on September 22nd or 23rd. This is the point in the year where the number of daylight and nighttime hours are the same. After this date, the days get shorter and the nights get longer leading us into winter.
The change in daylight hours and cooler temperatures causes deciduous trees to stop the production of chlorophyll, which is the chemical that gives leaves their green color. Without the green pigment, other colors like yellow, orange, and red, are able to be seen in the leaves.
Chlorophyll plays an important role in the process of photosynthesis. With colder temperatures and less daylight hours, deciduous trees take a break from photosynthesis and go dormant for the winter. Because these trees will not need their leaves for photosynthesizing, they drop their leaves through a process known as abscission. This causes the link between the leaf stem and the tree branch to get weak. Sometimes this happens before the leaf has lost all of its green color and you can find green leaves on the ground mixed in with the yellow, red, orange, and brown ones.
The pictures in Figures 2 and 3 above were captured using the Foldscope Mini. I placed the leaves directly in the slide pocket (no slide preparation was needed), held the Foldscope Mini up to the sky (not directly at the sun!), put my phone in front of the lens, and snapped some pictures!
Oak trees produce acorns, which are the tree’s fruit. Some types of oak tree can produce 10,000 acorns in a single year! It didn’t take me long to find several specimens to study with my Foldscope 2.0.
Reflective Lighting Observations
An exciting feature of the Foldscope 2.0 is the ability to observe opaque objects using reflective lighting. To capture the images below, I placed the acorn cap inside of the Foldscope 2.0 (again, no slide preparation was used for this). I turned the 2.0 LED Light Module to the reflective lighting setting and attached it to the back of the Foldscope 2.0 so that the light shone through the hole and closed the back. Then I coupled my phone onto the 50X lens so that I could get as wide a field of view as possible for observing the acorns.
It was amazing to see the scales on the cupule of the acorn! I even placed a whole acorn inside of my Foldscope - this was tricky as the round acorn wanted to keep rolling out! But I persevered and was able to see the delineation between the darker part of the acorn and the lighter part that is normally covered by the cupule.
What other signs of fall can you explore with your Foldscope 2.0 or Foldscope Mini? Use your imagination to dive into the microscopic world - you never know what beautiful and mysterious things are there waiting for you. Share your microscopic images and thoughts on the Microcosmos. Be sure to tag us on social media when you post the results of your explorations, creations, and discoveries! We love to see how Foldscopers around the world are using their Foldscopes in new and innovative ways!