I lied. My smartphone isn’t a microscope — yet. But there are some smart physicists who want to make that transformation possible very soon, if not for you and me at first, then for doctors who don’t have easy access to laboratories.
There are a lot of ways to trick out your smartphone. And if you’re an eager Apple fan, the brand-new iPhone 4S will come with fancy apps that use its increasingly sophisticated camera to scan and image the world. A smartphone camera lens can measure objects, help translate words, and even tell you whether your potato chips have been caught in a food safety recall.
But Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu and colleagues at the Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis say a smartphone’s camera lens can also serve as a microscope and a spectrometer, which both could be pretty handy for looking at blood samples.