Hologram of a Cell undergoing mitosisIt's one of those concepts straight out of a science fiction movie like Star Trek - holographic projectors that show images and video in 3D. But what if I told you that in only 3 simple steps, you could make your very own holographic imaging device to view your Fluorescence Microscopy images in vivid detail as shown above? Does it sound too good to be true??? Well, it's not! If you're interested in how to pull this off, and have an extra 30 minutes on hand for an easy DIY project, then read on!
The concept of a hologram projector may sound quite complex, but using some simple optical principles (which I won’t get into in this blog), we can make one with the following supplies:
- Tablet or cell phone (I tried it with both an iPhone and an iPad)
- Clear plastic (you could use the clear plastic from a CD case cover)
- Graph paper
- Box cutter knife
- One of your coolest Fluorescence Microscopy images
- Photo editing software
Once the above image was created, I loaded it onto my iPad.
Now that steps 1, 2, and 3 are done, all that is needed is to put everything together to use.
Place your iPad on a flat surface and load the image that you created in Photoshop onto your ipad. Next, place the 4 sided clear plastic contraption (let’s call it the “holographic projector”) directly on top of the iPad in the center of the image with the small opening down, as shown below.To best view the hologram, dim the lights in the room you are in and bend down so that you’re eyes are on the same level as the holographic projector. What you should immediately see is a 3D-like projection of the cell that shows up in the center of the holographic projector (shown below). Your first instinct very likely will be to try and touch the image, which both my 4-year old and I tried to do. Incidentally, my 4 year old kept referring to the image as a "hot air balloon"; hopefully as a seasoned scientist I won't have to point out to you (as I did repeatedly to him...) that this is actually a cell undergoing mitosis, not a hot air balloon. But I digress... Regardless of whether it’s a hot air balloon or a mitotic cell, it's still really cool to see it.
Below is one more example of an image viewed with this hologram projector. If you’ve gotten this far and want to have even more fun with this device, search on Youtube for “hologram” or “holographic” videos; there are numerous results of videos that can be used with this device that give you an even more spectacular viewing experience. However, sadly, there are no videos with fluorescently labeled cells (which I guess gives me opportunity for a follow up blog post).