As solicited over twitter by TheFrogBlog, I designed a T7 Bacteriophage model for 3D printing via Shapeways. And, here it is: ](/images/Bacteriophage_Model.jpg) Bacteriophage T7 It’s a little fragile at the tips of the legs, so I might increase the size a little to make it more robust. Also, the neck is a little weak where the head joins the body, so I may have to lower the head a little to strengthen that connection.
Some time ago I placed an order for a labour of love of mine: IndieBB. It’s a plasmid I designed to make cloning in Bacillus subtilis easier, faster and more reliable. Crucially, it’s also supposed to make the whole process antibiotic-free and DIYbio friendly. It’s going to be the flagship product of Indie Biotech if it works, and if it sells well enough I’m planning to offer additional cassettes that extend and enhance the plasmid, allowing customers to start performing practical synthetic biology with a minimal lab setup requirement.
While researching homebrew chromatography, I got seriously sidetracked by several cool blogs on DIY science. DIYBIO4Beginners is over a year old, and has a huge number of posts covering mostly practical aspects of learning about Biotech and DIYbio. Of particular interest are the posts that contain video series’ teaching you about Biotech/Biochem, or “How-To”, etc. There’s a lot of stuff in there, much of it news coverage, but the signal-to-noise is really excellent.
Just for love, I designed and printed myself a little sculpture of a DNA double-helix on a small base. It’s going to be my desk ornament in the lab for the next few months while I try to finish my project on time and write a thesis. Of course, nowadays if you’ve made something you’re proud of, it’s a trivial thing to offer it for sale to others with similar nerdy interests!
Update: Keep your bacteria in the dark. I had been doing this without meaning to, and was confused to hear a fellow microbiologist growing a derivative of my cultures in her lab and getting no glow. When she grew them in the dark, they glowed again! Brief exposures have no effect. It’s the prevailing light conditions that seem to decide whether to stay active. This may be due to the light breaking down the little peptide the bacteria use to detect whether there are enough of them to glow meaningfully, or it might be a deliberate evolutionary adaptation.
Toward the latter half of WWII, landing strips and airbases were being built all over the Pacific on small, otherwise totally isolated islands. Little contact was made with the natives to explain what was going on, and in some cases the locals were incredulous to see the new arrivals performing strange rituals on their tarmac runways and receiving airdropped “gifts” from the gods/ancestors. When the bases were abandoned, in some cases the locals started replicating the structures and activities of the base personnel, performing marches and drills, talking into replica radios, and waving lit firebrands on the runways and waving them.
Long Overdue Update: I’m very proud to say that, some time back, I updated the Dremelfuge design with better tolerances and a better shape to handle tubes. When I tested it (only once so far) at full speed on a dremel with two tubes full of fruit smoothie, it didn’t eject or break the tubes at all. So there you go, Dremelfuge can now be considered the world’s cheapest midi-ultra-centrifuge, capable of putting about 52,000g on up to six 1.5ml eppendorf tubes.
I’ve had on my mind an idea for some time that I’ve wanted to try. Having a Makerbot has enabled me to experiment with mad science on a level I’ve not been able to before, so here it is: DremelFuge, a printable drill/rotary tool attachment that spins microcentrifuge tubes! I uploaded a quickly mashed-together first draft to Thingiverse, but didn’t have a chance to print it that day as planned because I lost my laptop in town while Christmas shopping.
Long Overdue Update: This post has turned out to be one of the all-time most popular on my site, which surprises me to no end. Who’d have thought my crummy heatsink-and-tin thermal cycler would be cooler than isolating glowing bacteria or printing a 52,000g centrifuge? But, who am I to question human interest. It’s not like my interests are particularly normal anyway. However, I do think this post needs updating, since people keep returning to it and asking questions.
For a while preceding buying my own Arduino, I spent my time looking at all the cool projects people have used them for on the Make blog, Fashioning Technology and the Arduino wiki itself. Although I love all the projects that showcase the artistic use of electronics, and I’m impressed with the more utilitarian uses also, I see great untapped potential in the Arduino as a replacement technology for certain niches where equipment is prohibitively expensive.