You may have seen this recent article about Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis — two Rice University undergraduates who figured out how to turn a kitchen “salad spinner” into a centrifuge that can separate blood into plasma and red cells in about 20 minutes. The inventors hope it will have a lot of applications in developing countries, because it will allow clinics to check blood samples for anemia on location and in real time, instead of transporting blood samples miles to the nearest facility with a centrifuge.
If the field tests go well, the inventors surely deserve to be lauded for the lives their invention will save.
But I also think the students should be recognized for another aspect of their feat — namely, they figured out how to turn a really lame and pretty useless kitchen device into something useful! We have one of these (someplace). One attempted use was enough. I’m glad they found a way to unlock the true potential of this technology.