OpenPCR

OpenPCR Machine Makes Your Basement A Crime Lab

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You’ve heard of the CSI effect, right? It’s this wacky “syndrome” whereby we’ve watched so much CSI Miami and Law and Order that we can’t fully put our weight behind a verdict without some solid DNA evidence. I guess it’s easy to forget that we had an entire legal system sans DNA for quite a while. In any case, we’ve apparently got an itch to be a bunch of white-coated forensic scientists, which is why we’re so lucky that this crazy, and also beautiful, machine exists in the world.

It’s called OpenPCR, and it’ll make science-style DIYers drool. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, and it’s a crucial tool for just about any type of modern molecular biology. The way it works is by amplifying a specific region of a super teency-weency strain of DNA, and after that I kind of got lost in the biological jargon, but it’s all explained here.

With OpenPCR, you can do two different types of tests: DNA Sequencing and DNA Barcoding. Sequencing is where you use the PCR machine to check out some of your own genome, while Barcoding is checking out what kind of species a certain bit of DNA belongs to. If you have yet to be convinced, just check out how these two girls used DNA Barcoding to uncover a New York City scandal (hint: 2 out of 4 Sushi restaurants and 6 out of 10 grocery stores were selling mislabeled fish.)

For $599, you’ll get all the parts to the machine, instructions to set it up, and 16 PCR samples — the way by which you target certain regions of the DNA. Features include a heated lid that eliminates condensation, 2-degree per second ramp time (Centigrade), and compatibility with Mac and PC.