Five Indian inventions that you have probably never heard of
History & Classics  

The zero and chess are well known India’s contributions to the world, but here are some of the many lesser-known modern inventions by Indians that are making the world a better — and more colourful — place to live in.


Painting the town blue
Invention: YinMn Blue
Inventor: Mas Subramanian, professor of materials science, Oregon State University
Chennai-born Mas Subramanian and his team accidentally created a vivid new blue that has been described as “near perfect” while testing the electronic properties of manganese oxide. It’s a mix of Yttrium, Indium and Manganese.
What’s unique: Safe to produce, has no carcinogens, is environmentally benign, remains stable at high temperatures, doesn’t fade, and is now commercially available as paint.
Ride on plastic
Invention: Plastic roads
Inventor: Dr R Vasudevan, dean, Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai
Plastic is usually considered a bane, but a chemistry professor found a way to use old
plastic to lay roads that last longer. In 2006, Vasudevan patented a road-laying process that involves sprinkling shredded plastic waste over hot gravel, coating the stones in a thin film of plastic, and then adding the plastic-coated stones to regular molten tar and laying the road.
What’s unique: Lasts longer and brings down road-laying maintenance costs by 50% as plastic does not allow water to permeate into the road.
Manu's microscope
Invention: Paper microscope


Inventor: Manu Prakash, scientist at Stanford University
In 2014, Meerut-born IIT-Kanpur alumnus Manu Prakash devised a microscope made of paper that costs under $1. Called the Foldscope, it can be printed on a single sheet of paper and folded into shape and used
What’s unique: Foldscope is cheap, portable and can be used in science education as well as medical diagnosis in rural areas.
Eat with it, eat it
Invention: Edible cutlery
Inventor: Narayana Peesapati, former groundwater researcher
Hyderabad-based Narayana Peesapati was horrified by the amount of plastic cutlery being used and discarded every day, and the effect of plastic not only on the environment but also on health. He started work on his edible spoons and forks in 2010 and now markets them under the brand name Bakeys across the world. They’re a blend of millets, rice and wheat, so they’re not just edible, they’re probably more nutritious than the pasta that you scooped up with it.
What’s unique: They don’t get soggy when left in food, hot or cold, for hours and have a shelf life of three years. Even if they’re discarded, they degrade completely in four days, and can also be eaten by other creatures. 
Bringing back voices 
Invention: Voice prosthesis under $1
Inventor: Dr Vishal Rao, oncologist
The Bengaluru-based doctor has invented a tiny voice prosthesis made of silicon, to help cancer survivors who have lost their voice box or larynx to talk again.
What’s unique: Rao’s Aum voice prosthesis, invented with the help of his friend Shashank Mahes, costs Rs 50, far less than the Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 that most devices are priced at.



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“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.”