What’s the oddest reference you’ve ever put in a paper? Have you ever been tempted to slip in a joke reference? I’m sure it’s been done, but this paper cites one of the Harry Potter books for real.

The actual device is a pretty neat use of existing technologies… paper diagnostics are being developed but often the results need to be interpreted. How about, instead, if the paper spelled out the result in plain English (or language of your choice)?

I don’t think you actually have to write a question in blood

When you dab some blood onto the paper device it sticks to the area covered with antibodies for that blood type (A, B or O) and Rhesus factor. Make that area into the shape of the letter and a plus/minus and you get an easily understood readout. That’s basically the gist of the device. Pretty simple, probably quite useful you think. But what was the inspiration for such a device? Well, that seems to be where Harry Potter comes in, or rather, Tom Riddle’s diary.

For those of you not familiar with the story, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Tom Riddle’s Diary contained the essence of Tom Riddle, later baddie Lord Voldemort, contained within a book. Writing in the book allowed Harry to communicate with Riddle/Voldemort. |You wrote a question and the book responded. Or, as Li et al write in the paper:

‘The British author, J K Rowling, presented a visionary idea in her novel “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” that one can interrogate a piece of paper for information and get unambiguous answers from the paper in writing … The artist’s vision shows that non-conventional mechanisms of reporting assay results using paper-based sensors should be explored.’

So, J K Rowling, author, millionaire, scientist? I’m note sure I’d have gone quite so overboard, and who knows whether the authors were really inspired by Harry Potter or just thought they could help up Rowling’s h-index, but I do quite like the device. As long as it’s not inhabited by a part of Voldemort’s soul – I’m not sure I’d want my blood getting anywhere near him.

Laura Howes

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Paper based blood Q & A, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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