Testing for acute pancreatitis can take a while, which can be problematic. Brian Zaccheo, a student from the University of Texas, knows this. That's why he created this crazy sensor for under a buck—from aluminum foil, gelatin, milk protein, and a cheap LED light—that spots the condition in less than an hour.
Here's how it works: A drop of blood is extracted and dropped on a layer of gelatin and milk protein. If the sample contains trypsin—which exists in higher levels in afflicted patients—there's an enzymatic reaction and the sample eats right through the mix of gelatin and protein. A drop of sodium hydroxide is then added and dissolves the next layer of foil. This clears the way for another reaction to take place—a circuit forms and lights up the LED in the contraption. If it takes less than an hour to light up, the patient can be diagnosed with acute pancreatitis.
The test is actually reliable, and the fact that it takes less than an hour beats out other tests that are currently being used. Science can be damn fantastic. [PopSci]