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Saving lives for 20-cents: Manu Prakash presents at TEDxStanford

One of the most important things I’ve learned as a writer is that every good story has an even better backstory. So when I heard that Stanford bioengineer Manu Prakash, PhD, was presenting at TEDxStanford, I knew this was a fantastic opportunity to get the inside scoop on the origins of his no-frills inventions for citizen scientists.

If you’ve been following Prakash here on Scope, you know he’s the creative genius behind many low-cost inventions including the Foldscope, the "paperfuge" and the kids’ chemistry set that was inspired by a music box.

But did you know the Foldscope was not the first microscope that Prakash made?

"My very first microscope," Prakash explains in his talk, "was built by stealing my brother’s eyeglasses. I thought I could get away with it," he says laughing. Theft, obviously, isn't the way to go for hopeful scientific innovators, he admitted.

But as it turns out, Prakash’s attempt to make a microscope from a pair of pilfered eyeglasses wasn’t a total wash. This experience helped inspire Prakash to create a foldable paper microscope that curious kids (and adults) could easily assemble to explore the microscopic world around them.

Prakash’s presentation is full of hidden gems and is well worth a watch.

Previously: Manu under the microscopeStanford bioengineer Manu Prakash named a MacArthur Fellow and Free DIY microscope kits to citizen scientists with inspiring project ideas.
Video courtesy of TEDxStanford

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