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Thinking Outside of the Toy Box: 4 Children's Gizmos That Inspired Scientific Breakthroughs [Slide Show]

Brilliant minds reach back to childhood to help them develop tiny transistors, study particle separation, make microfluidics devices, and fight cancer
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FLOATING AN IDEA TO FIGHT CANCER

Harvard Medical School's Shiladitya Sengupta and other cancer treatment researchers wanted to transport chemotherapy drugs inside a tumor after blocking its blood supply. He realized the balloon-within-a-balloon structure could help him tackle the drug delivery challenge and developed a nanocell containing different drugs in each of its two layers.....[ More ]

OUT OF THE OVEN

Khine developed a technique to make microfluidics chips directly from Shrinky Dink plastic. Now Shrink Nanotechnologies creates products such as stem cell research devices and solar cells using a polymer that shrinks 95 percent and does so more consistently than the toy that served as its inspiration.....[ More ]

HALF-BAKED?

Michelle Khine, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of California, Irvine, returned to her favorite toy out of necessity because she lacked much-needed facilities for making microfluidics chips.....[ More ]

SHRINKY DINK INSPIRATION

The very first Shrinky Dinks were sold on October 17, 1973, at the Brookfield Square Shopping Mall in Brookfield, Wisc. Shrinky Dinks shrink to approximately one third of their original size and become nine times thicker, according to ShrinkyDinks.com .....[ More ]

LAB ON A LEGO BOARD

The Johns Hopkins researchers rotated the Lego board to see how different angles affected the results, and dropped hundreds of balls to obtain the statistics they needed.....[ More ]

FUN WITH MICROFLUIDICS

Johns Hopkins University chemical and biomolecular engineering assistant professors German Drazer [ seen here ] and Joelle Frechette placed a large Lego board with cylindrical Lego pegs vertically in a fish tank filled with glycerol, a viscous liquid.....[ More ]

DRAWING BOARD

To draw lines, the Etch A Sketch's stylus scrapes aluminum powder from the underside of a glass screen. University of Pittsburgh physics professor Jeremy Levy wondered if the toy's approach could draw and erase nanowires.....[ More ]

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