Turn your iPhone into a microscope for $10

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Surely it can't be too hard to make this. Photo: Kenji Yoshino/MAKE
Surely it can't be too hard to make this. Photo: Kenji Yoshino/Make

Taking macros of your monitor or American Apparel hoodie with your iPhone is so last year.

A Make Magazine tutorial shows you how to make a powerful microscope with up to 375x magnification using just your iPhone, a clear plastic panel, a piece of plywood and some inexpensive hardware.

If you’re a DIY-er that knows how to drill holes and take apart a laser pointer on a keychain, you could be taking super up-close pictures of cricket legs and your cat’s tongue before you know it.

Help NASA solve space’s mysteries with this asteroid app

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The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey  telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona
The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona

There are millions of asteroids in the Solar System and relatively few astronomers to track them. They’d hate to miss that one dangerous rogue headed on a collision course with Earth.

So NASA has made it easier for the amateur stargazer to record and compare their discoveries and put extra eyes on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA and Planetary Resources Inc. have developed a computer program that is based on an algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. The new asteroid hunting application, available for free download here, was announced Sunday by NASA at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

New snail species is so punk, it’s named after Joe Strummer

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Rock the snail shell. Photo: Shannon Johnson/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Rock the snail shell. Photo: Shannon Johnson/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

This deep sea snail is covered in spikes, has purple blood and lives in the most extreme ocean environments. So of course the scientists that discovered it had to name it after their favorite punk rocker, Joe Strummer of The Clash.

In a study cleverly named “Molecular taxonomy and naming of five cryptic species of Alviniconcha snails (Gastropoda: Abyssochrysoidea) from hydrothermal vents,” researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute detail five new species of snails, one of which gained the scientific name A. strummeri to honor The Clash frontman.

DIY electric train lets you build your own Polar Express

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Transform copper wire, magnets and a battery into a simple electric train. Screen grab from Amazing Science YouTube video
Transform copper wire, magnets and a battery into a simple electric train. Screengrab: Amazing Science

For the kid expecting a Lionel model train set under the Christmas tree, unwrapping a pack of copper wire, a couple of magnets and a battery is sure to disappoint.

But show them how to make a train out of those items, and you just might spark their curiosity and instill a love of science. Now that’s a gift — here’s how it works.

An iPad filled with apps weighs more than one with nothing installed

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Photo: Apple
An iPad filled with apps weighs more.

Which weighs more? An iPad filled with media and apps, or an iPad with no media or apps installed?

It sounds like a trick question — the digital age equivalent of “What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?”

But surprisingly, an iPad without anything installed on it does weigh less than an iPad that is full.