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The Cake is a Lie

February 2010

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The Cake is a Lie


OK, so ever since I saw some PBS thingamagoogie where some lab tech suspended a thread (more likely many, many threads) of DNA from a rod, lifting it out of a beaker, I've been fascinated with the idea of SEEING a molecule with the naked eye.  Er, sort of.

So, today I taught a homeschooling science class about Darwin, evolution, and genetics where we EXTRACTED OUR OWN DNA.

That was unspeakably cool.  Now, seeing the slooshy stuff floating around in the solution wasn't enough for me, no sir.  I had to pick up threads of it myself and see that gleaming slender line lifting out of the liquid.  I had my son take some photos, and hopefully all of you lovely people will be able to see what we were seeing, even if it doesn't look like much.  The liquid is pinkish because one source said that a drop of food coloring would help with visibility.  It didn't, really.  I thought it would stain the DNA, instead, the DNA remained whitish in clumps against the pink background.  If you use a toothpick to tease at a clump, you can pull a thread up.  Be careful, it is fragile and doesn't take much to snap!

Look, Ma, my DNA!  (You can see my farm-y front yard reflected in the glass.)  The thread may be too small to see in this photo.

OK, one more try for a super close up:

See that tiny thread that goes from the pinkish liquid to the tip of the toothpick?  That's my DNA!!  :silly grin:


Ya - very cool. I'll bet the kids loved that. My daughter was just doing something similar (but more involved) in her college genetics class the other day and she texted me "I feel like I'm on C.S.I !") LOL
Way cool science. :)
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