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DIY Biotech: Genetic Engineering with the DNA Playground

Explore how you can modify E. coli bacteria to produce proteins of your choice; that is, genetic engineering: the direct manipulation of an organism's genes using biotechnology. We’ll also review and tear down the DNA Playground: an affordable all-in-one hardware platform that’s simple enough for middle-school students to use to genetically engineer bacteria.

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DIY Biotech: Gel Electrophoresis

This time, we’ll explore a technology used on a daily basis by super-sleuths: gel electrophoresis. In addition to examining the step-by-step process of how to obtain pure samples of charged molecules with little more than seaweed gelatin, a plastic chamber, and a DC power supply, we’ll review some DNA basics and see why gel electrophoresis is a cornerstone to many DIY Biotech projects.

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Dark Energy and the Expanding Universe

Time for a little weird science! Concepts such as energy density and negative pressure as they relate to our expanding universe are difficult for most of us to understand since we don’t see them in our daily lives. In this article, we’ll explore these ideas and analyze an electrical model with similar properties that is constructed with some copper plates and an electrometer. Comparing this model to the cosmological model of our universe should help us understand these concepts and emerging theories of the cosmos. Hopefully, in the process, we’ll learn more about how our fantastic universe works.

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DIY Biotech: A Spectrophotometer for Measuring Bacterial Growth

Build an Arduino-based spectrophotometer to explore how the optical density of bacteria suspended in a liquid can be used to measure the rate and stage of bacteria growth.

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DIY Biotech: Open Source PCR Thermocycler

In this DIY Biotech article, we’ll look at an Open Source Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Thermocycler kit. In addition to learning about DNA amplification, we’ll cover thermal sensing, thermal resistance, the thermoelectric effect, and PID controllers.

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The Discovery of Radio Waves

When the concept of electromagnetic waves was first proposed around 1864, it was met with great skepticism. As a result, the idea languished for a long time. It took several decades for a handful of dedicated persons — infatuated with the mysteries of electricity and magnetism — to finally put the theory on a solid footing.

In this article, we’ll take a look back at this period that launched the serious study of radio waves. We’ll examine the contribution of James Clerk Maxwell, the man most responsible for the concept. Next, we’ll look at the work of several notable scientists who came after Maxwell, and see how they confirmed the existence of radio waves.

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DIY Biotech: Harnessing Bacteria for Fermentation

Do-it-yourself biology is a growing biotechnological social movement in which individuals, communities, and small organizations study biology and life science using the same methods as traditional research institutions. In this first installment of a series of DIY Biotech articles, we’ll look at bacterial fermentation in the form of yogurt making. Not only is this a low-cost, low-risk entry into practical DIY biotech, you’ll learn a lot about monitoring pH as well.

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