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Centrifuges are a basic component of any modern medical laboratory. Used to separate different types of cells within a blood sample by spinning them extremely quickly, they are an essential tool for detecting many diseases. Due to the price of equipment and a lack of electricity, however, many medical centres in resource-poor areas lack access to the technology. After seeing this problem first-hand on a visit to Uganda, Manu Prakash, professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, thought up a new tool that wouldn’t require any electricity whatsoever. Inspired by a children’s toy known as the whirligig, Prakash invented the ‘paperfuge’, a hand-powered centrifuge that costs just 20 cents each to produce. Read more about Prakash and the paperfuge at NPR’s website.
Producers: Meredith Rizzo, Madeline Sofia, Andrea Kissack, Joe Palca
Animator: Benjamin Arthur
Website: Joe’s Big Idea
Journey deep into the Philippine forest in search of the world’s largest, rarest eagle
What does an AI make of what it sees in a contemporary art museum?
Fairness and equality
How the first woman of colour to be elected to the US Congress remade education
History of ideas
Tantra is, and was, a subversive philosophy of feminine power
Rituals and celebrations
From roaring fire and molten glass an artist creates a healing ritual
Ecology and environmental sciences
Producing food while restoring the planet – a glimpse of farming in the future
Ancient Greek sculptures were colourful. Why does the white marble ideal persist?
From zero to 5,000 – music and visuals express 30 years of exoplanet discoveries
We all play by economic rules set by men. What could a feminist economics look like?