Exploring Big and Small Worlds with Lumia 1020

    Using a conventional device, such as a smartphone, for scientific (or at least scientific and educational) purposes is usually perceived skeptically. Nevertheless, such an attitude is not always justified and projects such as, for example, a quantum random number generator created on the basis of a regular Nokia N9 smartphone, contribute to the destruction of this stereotype.



    But not N9 single. This year we learned about two more interesting projects, the basis of which became our smartphones, or rather our Lumia 1020 camera phone. And no matter how ridiculous it may sound, the areas in which our mobile device is involved are in diametrically opposite directions: microcosm research and research of space.

    "Ultoscope" by James Parr


    Like many other boys, at age 10, James Parr, founder of the Open Space Agency , looked at the stars at night and dreamed of visiting the farthest reaches of the cosmos. Thirty years later, the stars came together in such a way that James fulfilled his childhood dream. No, he did not become an astronaut, but, nevertheless, he achieved his goal by developing, in collaboration with Microsoft and a number of renowned experts in astronomy, the world's first automatic observatory, parts of which can be printed on a 3D printer.



    The device, called the Ultrascope, is based on the Lumia 1020 with a 41-megapixel camera. And it, according to the creator, should completely change the approach to astrophotography, providing the opportunity to make a high-quality shot of the starry sky directly from the window of the apartment.



    The details of the Ultoscope frame are created using a 3D printer, and then assembled by hand into a small structure 1 meter high and 65 centimeters wide. Further, the Lumia 1020, a system of mirrors, tuning drives and the Arduino that drives them are fixed on the structure. The principle of operation of the telescope is as follows: at the first stage, using the laptop running Windows determines the position of the International Space Station. This data is sent to the Arduino computing platform for its positional tuning. After this comes the turn of Lumia, which takes high-resolution images and sends them to OneDrive for post-processing.







    James Parr believes that everyone interested in space exploration will be able to use the device, from professional astronauts to young enthusiasts.

    “We live in an amazing time,” says James, “when mass consumer technologies make things publicly available that only a small circle of professionals could afford a few years ago. Now amateur astronauts around the world simply can download the Ultrascope layout over the Internet, print parts using a 3D printer and assemble the device manually. Insert your smartphone into your device and start an amazing journey. ”



    At the moment, the developers of the project are actively encouraging everyone to participate in beta testing.. 3D files for printing the telescope frame will soon be available on the official OSA website.

    In the next 12-18 months, the release of new, more advanced models is planned. In the meantime, a team of Microsoft designers and developers are helping OSA with the development of a custom application for operating and controlling the telescope.

    Photomicrography of John Graff and Mark Lee-Chen


    Leafing through the professional medical journal " Histopathology " (examination of body tissues), you least expect to meet with an article about a smartphone. However, this year the title with the phrase “Nokia Lumia 1020” appeared in this edition.



    It is worth noting that this is not advertising material, but a scientific note by John Graff and Mark Lee-Chen, researchers from the Department of Pathology of the University of California, in which they describe in detail how to use the 41-megapixel camera of our smartphone as a device for obtaining high-quality photomicrography, that is images taken using a microscope.

    Perhaps this seems unobvious, but not every camera is suitable for this kind of research practice. To achieve high quality images, special tripods and long hours of fine-tuning for each microscope are needed. Sometimes specialists use standard cameras or cameras of traditional smartphones, but in most cases the pictures are blurry and not detailed enough.

    At the same time, the accuracy and clarity of images plays an extremely important role here. For example, the size of some bacteria is only a few microns, that is, smaller than the size of red blood cells. Here, the distinctive qualities of the Lumia 1020 came in handy: high resolution and the possibility of post-processing (in this case, increasing images) without loss of quality. According to the scientists themselves, working with high-definition color photographs allows you to see important small details, including the shape of the cells, their color, whether it is infected or so on. So, for example, in one of the difficult clinical cases described in the article, it was thanks to high-quality images taken on a smartphone that scientists were able to identify a rare type of bacterium and prescribe the correct treatment.



    It is noteworthy that in the framework of a ten-month field study, only JPEG images were used, and the authors rightly believe that shooting in digital negative mode (RAW DNG) can provide even more detailed images.

    Also, doctors attached particular importance to the optical stabilization system, which allowed them to take pictures through the barrel of the microscope eyepiece directly from their hands. This means that in conditions of limited time, medical workers will be able to do research as efficiently as possible, even with several microscopes at the same time.

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