A couple of months ago, I helped my husband pick out a used microscope (his hobby, collecting and identifying wild mushrooms, sometimes requires 1000X magnification for spores) and joked that I can't get away from biology equipment, even at home. Now it's also possible to kit out our basement laboratory with an inexpensive, open source PCR machine.
I sort of love the idea of backyard biologists using these OpenPCR devices to replicate their BioBricks, but a more likely application would be for science labs at public schools, or medical diagnostic facilities in the developing world. The PCR machines at my lab cost around $10,000 each; OpenPCR costs $512.
Of course, for PCR to work you also need access to DNA primers, nucleotides, and polymerase, which you aren't likely to have lying around the house. Determined citizen scientists will have to track down a source of those materials if they want to get into the PCR game. Still, pretty cool!
5 tips for writing science fiction to engage people who don't read it - Back in 2006, I had an epiphany. Stories are empathy engines, regardless of the medium. And for humans, they always have been. *Read the rest*
12 hours ago