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Thomas Zimmerman : Life in a Drop of Water

Thomas Zimmerman is a Research Staff Member and Master Inventor at IBM Research-Almaden and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the San Francisco State University in California. His 77 patents cover microscopy, position tracking, user input devices, wireless communication, image and audio signal processing, biometrics and encryption. His Data Glove invention established the field of Virtual Reality, selling over one million units. His electric field Personal Area Network (PAN) invention sends data through the human body, exchanging electronic business cards with a handshake, and prevents air bags from injuring children in automobiles. He received his B.S. in Humanities and Engineering and M.S. in Media Science from MIT.


Plankton are creatures that float in the ocean and are essential for life on Earth. Most are so tiny you can only see them with a microscope. So why are they so important and how does a microscope work? In this talk, I will use a small holographic microscope I built to show you plankton in water collected around Tawau. I’ll also explain how the invention of the microscope and telescope 400 years ago transformed our understanding of the biology and the universe.

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