This DIY toy is fun and simple — and could help tackle malaria and other diseases.

If you're, say, researching a new drug or vaccine, this lab might be perfect.

Image via iStock.

But not everyone is lucky enough to have access to such resources. If you're not in a big city, for example, or if you're one of the world's many remote health care workers, in which case you might be going someplace where you can bring only what fits in your Jeep.


Which means that lab is just not coming along.

One of the tools we'd really like to make "back-of-Jeep" friendly is the centrifuge.

Centrifuges are one of the most common scientific tools and work by spinning samples at ridiculously high speeds. In medicine they're used to prep blood samples for analysis. Unfortunately, typical centrifuges are bulky, heavy, expensive, and electronic, which led designers to search for alternative solutions.

Designers often look for inspiration in everyday objects. Some have tried salad spinners as a centrifuge replacement. Others tried egg beaters. Both of those were too slow and awkward, but now researchers at Stanford might have found something awesome.

This simple toy is known as a whirligig.

Image from Nature/YouTube.

You may have played with one before, and if you haven't, they're dead simple to make. Researchers spotted it and were curious: Could this thing work as a centrifuge? It certainly spun, but how fast? The researchers decided to build their own prototype and test it out.

Using a high-speed camera and some seriously impressive physics calculations, they found that a whirligig could get up to a blisteringly fast 125,000 revolutions per minute. That's not just fast, that's centrifuge fast.

Since the first test, researchers have come up with a new whirligig design that could hold small amounts of blood or other scientific samples. They're calling it the "paperfuge" and are working with health care workers in Madagascar to learn how to improve and distribute it.

Image from Nature/YouTube.

Initial results seem good. They can get blood samples to separate in just 90 seconds. After 15 minutes, results were fine enough to even identify malaria parasites. This means the paperfuge might be able to bring a ton of new tests — from basic health checkups to serious diagnostics — to the millions of people who live outside the range of typical labs.

A lot of science is, unfortunately, out of reach for normal people. Clever design like this could remove some of the barriers.

Image from Nature/YouTube.

Creating more accessible equipment could help democratize science, says Dr. Manu Prakash, one of the researchers who worked on the paperfuge. There are a ton of smart, knowledgable people out there, but living in a place where you can easily get and use thousand-dollar centrifuges is a privilege many do not get. New tools like the paperfuge could change that.

Science is one of the best ways we have to learn about and change our world. Imagine what we can do once everyone has access to it.

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.