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Harry Potter Inspires New Blood Type Test

Harry Potter Inspires New Blood Type Test

Wei Shen, a chemical engineer at Monash University in Australia, was watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in his Melbourne home when he had an epiphany. In the film, Harry writes questions in ink in Tom Riddle’s diary, and magically receives a written answer. Shen realized, watching the scene, that this sort of easy answer to a question didn’t have to stay a fantasy: we have the technology right now to create medical tests which give immediate, easy-to-understand written answers.

Inspired by the Harry Potter scene, Shen and his colleagues have developed a paper blood test the size of a Post-it note. The surface of the paper is water-repellant, but contains four spots with the antibodies for each blood type, and when a small amount of blood is smeared on the paper, letters will appear on the paper showing the blood type (A, B, AB, or O) and whether the sample is Rhesus positive or negative.

This new sensor will be going into production within the next 5 years, and already the makers have high hopes for its application in poor countries, war zones, and disaster areas. Existing blood tests are incredibly accurate, but require a scientific background in order to correctly interpret. This new test has the potential to allow people other than medical professionals to test for blood type, which could have profound implications for medical care in emergency situations.

And this isn’t the only potential application of this technology. It’s likely it will be applied to other diagnostic tests in the future, allowing for a quick, easy-to-read answer that takes away the potential for human error.

Shen’s blood type sensor isn’t the only modern technology inspired by or eerily reminiscent of the magic in Harry Potter. Discovery News has an entire slideshow comparing technological advances to magical devices in the popular book series.


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11:36PM PDT on May 16, 2012


6:00PM PDT on May 16, 2012

Great idea!

5:57PM PDT on May 16, 2012


5:42PM PDT on May 16, 2012

We did this in grade 10 biology class in 1962.
Why do we need to know our blood type? It did mention situations, such as war, where this could be used quickly and accurately. It's also needed for those who donate blood. Hopefully most of us. When someone is seriously injured, say with major bleeding, they need blood like right now. This is something that could be done on the way to the hospital so blood is available 5 minutes sooner. Good idea.

1:51PM PDT on May 16, 2012

wow, interesting...

12:14PM PDT on May 16, 2012

and a lot less expensive than having a scientist read the results

10:24AM PDT on May 16, 2012

How revolutionary is this idea when it has been used in pregnancy tests for decades now, long before Harry Potter hit the streets?

And unless you are one of the 1.5% of the population that may need a transfusion, how helpful is it to know your blood type?

10:12AM PDT on May 16, 2012

ideas come from all places.

5:06PM PDT on May 15, 2012


12:53PM PDT on May 15, 2012

What a cool use of the media!!!

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