The secret to saving lives in developing countries could be in your own kitchen drawer. A simple handheld egg-beater makes an excellent substitute for expensive, electric-powered centrifuges, reports the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Lab on a Chip. A centrifuge is a machine that uses centripetal force to redistribute substances according to density. You see them all the time on CSI.
We’re huge fans of DIY here, and when the end result saves lives—well, that’s just nifty.
In developing countries, centrifuges are integral in testing for lethal infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis B and cysticercosis. The spin of the centrifuge separates the plasma from blood, which is then tested for disease.
These infectious diseases cause half of all deaths in developing countries, so this testing is extremely important. The problem is, centrifuges have three strikes against them when it comes to a country like Turkey or Cambodia: they’re expensive, they require training to use, and they usually run on electricity.
George Whitesides and his group at Harvard University recognized that as useful as the centrifuge is, it’s just not practical for use in poorer countries with limited resources. So they came up with this alternative using what my high school calculus teacher liked to call the KISS method: Keep it Simple, Stupid.
So how does it work? It looks like all you have to do is remove one of the beaters, attach whatever tube of blood you have handy, and crank away. You’ll have yourself some quality plasma in less time than it takes to say Bosnia-Herzegovina! (Note: We don’t recommend turning your kitchen into an infectious disease testing center—it puts a damper on family dinner nights).
Got any ideas for using other kitchen gadgets for the betterment of mankind? Drop them in the comments section!Share Post: | Stumble | Share on Facebook | Tweet This |