How to save 51 billion lives for 68 cents with simple Engineering

How to save 51 billion lives for 68 cents with simple Engineering


We look at the back, those are the egg sacks. Dude!!!! I was not kidding. Oh my god. So this might be… I’m holding in my hand a microscope that is waterproof, stomp proof. I put it together in 2 minutes and it costs 50 cents to make. And in this hand I have a blood centrifuge that spins 10 times faster than a 10,000 dollar centrifuge and it costs 18 cents. Both of these were invented here at Stanford in the lab of a brilliant physicist, biologist, inventor named Manu Prakash, with the goal to help improve the life of the world’s poorest, through low cost, effective, scalable inventions. Incredibly it’s believed that of the estimated 100 billion people to have lived on this planet, More than half have died of malaria. The symptoms are similar to the flu, and so the goal standard for diagnoses is to take a drop of blood, spin it in a centrifuge and then look at under a microscope. Historically, this has been really hard to do in the places that need it the most, because the equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars and it needs electricity These two inventions can diagnose malaria, cost less than a dollar and require no electricity. Manu, good to finally meet you. Absolutely You’re like a superhero Oh I don’t know about that. From an engineering perspective what you do is amazing. Now before I continue with Manu, let me just support that statement by showing how this 50 cent paper microscope actually works. So it comes like this and you pop out the pieces of paper, and follow the simple instructions like folding origami. The lens is actually a tiny sphere of glass embedded in this plastic. Then you put your slide in here, and then you look through that tiny glass sphere and it’s magnified 140x. You can even put your phone up to it and film and then capture a video like this. Your lab at Stanford, what do you do? What’s your missions? Like the high level. I grew up in India and one of the things I’ve always enjoyed is getting exposed to scientific tools. When I started the lab it was very clear that we have this hunger for scientific tools that’s missing. And so we spent almost 50% of our time building and designing scientific tools, under the umbrella of “frugal science” It can’t cost a ton of money because every zero that you add to a scientific movement probably hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of people cut off. I wanted to test drive this paper microscope so we got a scoop of seemingly clear water from this pond, and there was one tiny white spec that didn’t settle to the bottom of our bag. So Manu suggested that we take a closer look. They can sense suction. Ah, okay. And they run away. It’s kind of like a fly when you’r trying to swat it, it senses your hand before it comes. And that’s what’s actually happening, it realizes -you know- just like it’s about to go in a mouth of a fish. It runs away, but I think I’m gonna get it. Got it. There it is. LAUGHS Okay Oh there he is. He’s in this one. And remember, to the naked eye you can barely see this tiny white spec. Woah! That’s the single eye, you see that? That little spot right there, and then we look And then we look at the back those are the egg sacks. Dude!! I was not kidding, so this might be 10-15 eggs on each side. Those are antenna. So when I said when I was sucking it in and it ran away. It senses the pressure variation through those. That’s so crazy You know this reminds me of like the first time I saw the stars with the telescope. Right? So you can see the stars all the time and you see the pictures of the stars but until you actually see it yourself in a telescope it’s just like something shifts inside you and I feel like we’re doing the same thing but just the other way. I think that’s such a beautiful analogy. So with this 50 cent paper microscope you can actually see any malaria in your blood. We generally think of blood as a red liquid but it’s actually full of particles like red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. So the problem is in just a couple drops of blood you have a billion red blood cells. So becomes the needle in a haystack, trying to find a few that have malaria. So that’s where centrifuge comes in. So you take some blood and put it in a tube and particles will be all mixed up like this, but when you spin it around really fast for a couple minutes the centrifugal force pushes all the heaviest particles to the outside and they displace the less dense particles towards the middle. So when you stop, all the particles are neatly organized from the most dense at the edge to the least dense in the center and since the malaria effected red blood cell is slightly less dense than a healthy one, you’ll always find it in between the healthy red blood cells and the clear plasma. All that’s to say centrifuges are really critical So I went to the lab to talk to Manu’s colleague Saad. to see how they apply their frugal science philosophy to this typically really expensive piece of equipment. These are traditional centrifuges. These require electricity and you can see how massive that is. Imagine if you have to carry this on your back if you’re in a resource-limited setting in India, for example, where I grew up. And so if you want to do this, you can’t use something like this which costs thousands of dollars and requires electricity, and so while we were out there we had a Foldscope but you couldn’t just take blood or urine or stool and do it. That became the bottlenecking. For the design problem statement that you come up with is I want something probably less than a dollar, preferably made out of lightweight materials like paper so it is easy to carry in your pocket, it should match the speed of these devices. You think about different gears and mechanisms and you go into your kitchen and your backyard and start thinking about toys, toys are a great way. So we started looking at yo-yos egg beaters and others have thought about salad spinners. What we found in this whirligig toy is that it’s one of the most efficient ways of converting your energy into rotational energy and that was the “aha” moment. Using strings as actuation in the middle rather than mechanical gears. I was just trying this out as soon as I saw that, in 10 seconds you kind of know in the back of your mind that this is something powerful like, you know, it transitions beyond a toy to something that has really important applications in global health. Let’s recreate that moment. We’re going to take some blood and let’s just spin it . We should take your blood. All right, haha So for spinning only for 10 seconds at 20,000 rpm you can see my blood was already separating. This is my own blood I’ve never seen my blood at this level before. All right, here we go That is crazy! So each one of those is a blood cell. What I loved most about Manu and Saad is their childlike fascination and curiosity about the world around them. They’re also incredibly observant, looking for ways their engineering talents might uniquely help or inspire others. It’s a contagious optimism and it’s refreshing. So I want to thank Bill and Melinda Gates for teaming up with me on this video. If you want to learn more about how life has and will continue to improve for the world’s poorest check out the Bill and Melinda Gates annual letter, I will leave a link to it in the video description. It’s a fascinating read and you get a sense of some of their ambitious goals, such as a future with zero cases of diseases such as Malaria, Polio and TB. If you watch the news, it may seem like the world is becoming a suckier place but the truth is both poverty rates and childhood death rates for the world’s poorest have absolutely plummeted in the last 15 years and this is due in part to folks like Manu those that support them. Thanks for watching. The two examples of this are This is I am awake! Yes! It’s too early morning for me. That’s your alarm clock. That is my alarm, yeah. In an extreme case if it’s 9am and I’m still not up.

100 thoughts on “How to save 51 billion lives for 68 cents with simple Engineering

  1. I get that what this guy did is AMAZING to say the least but, you find out you got a infection or anything. How do you treat yourself once you realize you got malaria

  2. The 5.3K people that disliked this video had there screen upside down without knowing thinking they pressed the like button

  3. I love everything that you do it always fascinates me. I love to see what you can do. I really hope to see more videos like this in the future, it is very positive and 100% what our world needs

  4. The people who disliked are alt accounts of Satan. Also it is so sad the world never realizes the potential of these types of inventions and prefer to use the big, heavy, expensive stuff.

  5. you know stopping child death rates and poverty is great but why do i get the feeling that somewhere something else will be thrown off balance.

  6. We should put this mentality to use in hospital equipment and reduce healthcare costs. I realize some equipment will remain expensive, but it doesn't all have to be.

  7. Those dislikes might be from these traumatic people who dislikes everyone for no reason, even using the word "virgin" as an "insult".

  8. Why does he not know that there is only 7b people on the earth I mean come on am I the only person on this massive planet that knows this

  9. It's late 2019 and I'm just now mentioning that dirty minded thumbnail. I still don't even know what that's supposed to be.

  10. What does the small ball of glass cost? Second, saying it doesn't run on electricity and then a minute later, you see a battery providing electricity to the microscope.
    Come on, why bend the truth?
    Either way, this is cool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *