domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2014

CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music - Nigel Stanford

From the album 'Solar Echoes'. 

Download the video in 4k. All of the science experiments in the video are real. Watch behind the scenes and see how it was made. 

Directed by
Cinematographer: Timur Civan

ORIGINAL: Nigel Stanford

MIT Media Lab’s Kevin Hu wants to turn the invisible visible

MIT Media Lab’s Kevin Hu wants to turn the invisible visible
Big Data, HCI, Media Lab, MIT, Visualization, 

Photo by Alan Savenor 

Last March, MIT Media Lab Grad student Kevin Hu and his colleague Amy Yu saw their Pantheon project land on the front cover of The New York Times Magazine. Not bad for two grad students who are part of a generation using today’s seemingly unlimited technological innovations to change the world.

Focused on human data interfaces, Hu and his colleagues at the MIT Media Lab are part of the Macro Connections Group led by Cesar A. Hildago, where their sole mantra is “transform data into knowledge.” One of his current projects, DIVE, automatically generates Web-based, interactive visualizations of structured data sets.

What I discovered when I sat down with Kevin is that all those maps we now explore as click-bait on BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, and The Week explaining everything from the conflict in the Middle East to which states are more adulterous, are only going to become more ubiquitous if Kevin gets his way.

DIVE is a way to turn the invisible, visible. We want to democratize data visualization so that anyone with data can map an image that explains things,” said Hu. His goal is to remove the middlemen who interpret data for us.

But he and his classmates also want to know more about human emotions with another project called Quantify. They want a computer that, or should we say “who,” can feel out the squishy stuff. Can emotions be data? When Hu and fellow lab student, Travis Rich (also his roommate, is there any other way when you are 20-something?) invented Gif Gif, the theory of Quantify took shape. I sat down with Kevin to learn how he plans to change the way we live and digest information.

What happened with Pantheon after the NY Times Magazine cover?
When the cover hit, we got a lot of attention. We had a couple hundred thousand page views. Amy Yu led the project and I joined. We ran into a lot of controversy because people, and The New York Times, focused on the rankings rather than our goal of cultural production over time. We were less interested if a celebrity were number five or six but rather the aggregate: How many physicists have changed over time, what is our country’s cultural composition? Instead we had angry e-mails from Canadians asking why Avril Lavigne was above Frank Gehry.

The real point of the project was to see cultural production and how it changes over time. We think of cultural production, in the broadest sense, as information that’s transmitted by nongenetic means, like what we’re doing right now. Anything that’s not encoded in our DNA: The shoes we wear, the coffee we drink, and the language we speak. We consider that all to be culture and we proxy it by people.

What’s on your desk today?
DIVE. It’s trying to make data visualization accessible. It’s trying to democratize the use of data visualization, like the charts you see in The New York Times. One of the real powers of Pantheon was that anyone could look at this tree map or scatter plot or diagram and understand the story being told. The trouble is it takes a long time to build this tool. The New York Times has great interactive visualizations but they have a whole team dedicated to it.

DIVE is a way that people can automatically build visualizations, allowing a journalist to easily imbed a data-driven graphic, or an educator or researcher to easily build a visual tool.

How would you define the challenge of data visualization?
The fundamental problem is that we’re trying to translate between three worlds: 

  • The world of information: Bits
  • The world of knowledge: Neurons and cells; and 
  • the world of visualization: Pixels
Until we all are cyborgs and can plug in this data and automatically get what we need, we will need pixels. Data visualization is entirely concerned with how we represent these bits in terms of pixels on a 2-D screen. How do we turn the invisible to the visible?

What drew you to explore macro-connections?
I was studying physics but I was kind of frustrated with the current research scope of physics. It seems to me that people are concerned with either what’s very big (cosmology and astrophysics), or very small (high energy physics). But I was interested in learning how to understand everyday phenomena.

I was interested in looking at people who are applying physics to social problems and to things that we do not understand such as organizational structures, social dynamics, and the spread of epidemics.

What do you see that we don’t? How do you apply physics to social structures and problems?
I think it’s mostly a cultural thing. For the longest time social sciences could only tell us how we can think about a problem, not how we can actually solve it. But now we actually have the data to solve the problem. That’s very frightening but it’s very powerful and it’s a very new phenomenon.

Ten years ago, we didn’t have the data to create things like Pantheon. Now we have Facebook and OK Cupid that have great data logs. For the first time, we have actual data about self-identity. We now have how we view ourselves and how we view others. Physics is all about modeling these phenomena.

So these ‘squishy’ social things start to seem more linear?
Yes, exactly. Exactly.

How will DIVE change our lives? And can you already see it taking place?
I can. Imagine if journalists could use data visualization in their articles. Imagine if consultants could use it. The pipe dream is that in the future we have a completely data-literate society where when we talk about policies or about disaster relief, we have real-time, high-resolution, clean data sets and anybody has the ability to think about social issues rigorously.

For many issues, we see them through another person’s interpretation. A great deal of science reporting, for instance, is very second and third hand. Very few people actually read the research paper. Data visualization allows everyone to understand issues. DIVE is trying to close that gap such that when we acquire information about the world, we can get it first hand and we can mine it ourselves.

You sent me a test called Place Pulse before this interview. Why? 
Travis and I had this vision that we want to give computers the capability to reason about objects the way that we do. When computers think of gifs, they think of bits. When we think of gifs or videos, we think of their content. We may think of this video as being very emotionally compelling or this picture being very angry. That’s how we may think of an image but that’s not how a computer does.

Are you’re trying to give the computer emotions?
Yes, to give it the capability to think of media emotionally. It can reason very well, better than humans for anything that’s very computational and linear. But when we try to attach emotional intelligence to computers, we are not yet there. A computer cannot yet measure that this atrium is very clean, but a human can. We need a human in the loop.

We’ve built this comparison tool off the Quantify platform. You can imagine a whole list of comparable media that we can better measure if only we had the tools. How useful would it be if you could search Netflix this way? Or compare articles of clothing and know which one looks better on you or which one is more acceptable? Or compare experiences and know which one is more painful? Quantify allows this.

How do you convince people to give you that data?
We made it fun. Travis and I also built Gif Gif last March and it inspired Quantify. We have two million votes already. People like viewing gifs and contributing to knowledge but furthermore, we can give you a sense of what you like. What is your emotional profile? How did you vote in comparison to others? That makes it more interesting to share.

Who uses Gif Gif now?
People from all over the world use it. I’d say that the demographics are probably mostly teenagers because, really, who’s voting on gifs at 2 p.m. on Tuesday?

There is also a display in the lab called Mirror Mirror linked to Gif Gif. It’s a mirror with a webcam that uses facial recognition to measure emotions and it gives you back a gif. People love it and we didn’t expect people to love it, but it turns out that five-year-old children touring the lab and 60-year-old executives are all in front of it trying to say hi or trying to be angry.

What public opinion would you like to change?
I’d like to change the public’s opinion about experimentation. Human experimentation is an incredibly loaded term, for many very good reasons, and when Facebook said that they were experimenting with people’s newsfeeds, there was outrage. I think it’s kind of absurd. This is how software companies make tools. They test on their users and provide a service for free, and in exchange they use your data set. Clearly, if they give it to the wrong people, there’s potential for evil and abuse. I would like to see people be open and accepting of the fact that by contributing a little bit of anonymous information, they can help scientists better understand bigger issues like information flow, social network formation. I think that that should definitely change.

Why is the Media Lab so illustrious?
What I really look forward to every morning is the conversations I have with the people here in the lab. Gif Gif and Pantheon and DIVE – all those ideas really merged organically and there’s no real source: they all kind of came from the network and from conversations. A lot of people imagine people at the lab as people off in the air dreaming about what the next big thing will be, but really it’s just regular people having conversations and they happen to be asking, ‘what could be impactful?’ We’re aiming towards more paradigm shifts than incremental research. Is this going to be a game changer? Most of the time, the answer is ‘no,’ by definition, but it’s nice to be in a place where that is one of the first questions.

How do you keep going when things get tough on a project?
I’m taking this class at the lab called Tools For Wellbeing, as there’s a big initiative here about wellbeing, especially since MIT isn’t doing so well in that category. Pattie Maes actually teaches it sometimes. Last week’s subject was reframing. How do I reframe the situation? My answer to your question would definitely be to reframe it. Let’s say I’m trying to make this product but a feature isn’t working out. Well, one, can we design around that? Two, can we make do without it?

You dropped out of high school to go to Simon’s Rock School. How was that for you?
Simon’s Rock was probably the most formative two years of my life. It’s 300 kids in the Berkshires in the middle of nowhere in a pretty high-stress academic environment. It was very formative for me and I would do it again, but I don’t know if I’d enjoy it that much.

It’s considered an ‘early college.’ When I transferred to MIT from there, they accepted most of my Simon’s Rock credits.

Where do you get your news?
My media diet is 

  • one third Twitter and Facebook, 
  • one third very specific news sites that I like such as The New Yorker, New York Times, Huffington Post – the classic ones – The Economist – that sort of stuff – and 
  • then one third Reddit.
What event are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to the MIT Media Lab’s Spring Members’ Meeting, which is sometime in April. During this meeting, lab sponsors (companies) come by for three days for research demos and updates. I’d love to get member’s feedback on DIVE, FOLD, and QUANTIFY when they’re further along, since outsiders are always candid with their comments and needs.

Secret source?
It’s a lame answer but McDonald’s. I’m a huge McDonald’s fan.

What do you order?
Fries and McFlurry. I grew up with McDonald’s and Lunchables. I try to eat healthier now but that’s definitely my go to. I go there at least twice a week.

That stuff’s poison!
It’s true but it’s too good.

Heidi Legg interviews visionaries and thinkers around us at Follow Heidi on Twitter - Facebook

ORIGINAL: Beta Boston

By Heidi Legg

Thousands Of Darwin's Hand-Written Manuscripts Made Available Online

photo credit: AMNH

While we can never pick Charles Darwin’s brilliant brain, a collaborative project is bringing us closer to his thoughts than ever before. As of his week, to mark the 155th anniversary of the publication of his iconic book On the Origin of Species, the Darwin Manuscripts Project has made a treasure chest of Darwin’s hand-written notes available online, allowing people across the globe to trace the development of the man that changed the way we look at the world.
photo credit: AMNH

The project, which is a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and Cambridge University Library, was founded in 2003, and set out to digitize and transcribe a collection of Darwin’s writings. So far, more than 16,000 high resolution images of the naturalist’s notes, scientific writings and sketches have been made publicly available, but the project is only halfway through.

The documents hitherto released cover 25 years of Darwin’s life, “in which Darwin became convinced of evolution; discovered natural selection; developed explanations of adaptation, speciation, and a branching tree of life; and wrote the Origin,” according to the AMNH site.

You can even see a drawing by one of Darwin’s children, a scene of carrot and aubergine cavalry, which was sketched on the back of a page of the On the Origin of Species manuscript. You can also see his first use of “natural selection” as a scientific term, among many other things.

By June 2015, the archive will host more than 30,000 documents authored by Darwin between 1835 and 1882. The next release will cover the notes of his eight post-Origin books. The ultimate goal of the project, the AMNH explains, is to provide “access to the primary evidence for the birth and maturation of Darwin’s attempts to explore and explain the natural world.

by Justine Alford
November 27, 2014

viernes, 28 de noviembre de 2014

Harvard Scientists May Have Just Solved One of the Biggest Environmental Issues of Our Time

Image Credit: Getty

For years, researchers have been attempting to find a viable, biodegradable alternative to plastic.

Plastic is all around us, in the containers we store our food and in the bottles we drink our beverages from. Our groceries and shopping purchases are all brought home in plastic bags, which have earned the distinction of being "the most ubiquitous consumer item in the world," according to the Guinness World Records.

That's all great, except for the fact that plastic is not a biodegradable product. It takes years for plastic to turn into smaller pieces, but it never breaks down into simple compounds that can be harmlessly reabsorbed by the environment. Instead, it becomes a dangerous pollutant, clogging up waterways, damaging the marine ecosystem and entering the food chain.

But it seems we're closer to the solution than we might think. On Monday, researchers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute announced they have created a new bioplastic based off a novel source: shrimp shells.

How it works: The main component is chitosan, a form of chitin, the second most abundant organic compound in the world. It is found in everything from crustacean shells to insect cuticles and butterfly wings.

Usually, shrimp shells would be discarded or used in fertilizers or makeup. But the Harvard researchers have been able to process these shrimp shells to create a material that is strong, transparent and renewable. They've named it "shrilk."

"There is an urgent need in many industries for sustainable materials that can be mass produced," said Wyss director Donald E. Ingber. "Our scalable manufacturing method shows that chitosan, which is readily available and inexpensive, can serve as a viable bioplastic that could potentially be used instead of conventional plastics for numerous industrial applications."

The best part is that not only does shrilk biodegrade in a matter of weeks once it's discarded, it actually releases nutrients into the environment as it breaks down. Researchers have been able to grow a plant in soil that is enriched with chitosan, demonstrating how man-made garbage can actually contribute to the environment.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

Why this is important: Plastic garbage has been a problem for decades, and it's only getting worse. Over the past decade, we have produced more plastic than in the entirety of the 20th century, and half was for single-use products such as soda cups, straws and plastic bags. We use 500 billion plastic bags alone every year.

All that junk is not going anywhere anytime soon. Most plastic trash ends up in the oceans and accumulates in gyres, which are massive whirlpools created by the current. These giant, rotating heaps of garbage cover as much as 40% of the Earth's ocean surface; the biggest one, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is located off the coast of California and is twice the size of Texas. Researchers predict that these gyres are only going to get bigger in coming years:

Creating plastic is not very efficient, either. Almost 3% of America's total petroleum consumption is due to plastic production, as well as around 2% of total U.S. natural gas consumption. And though we have all been told to do our part and "reuse, reduce and recycle," the latter doesn't really apply to plastic; due to the way they are processed, we can only recover 5% of the plastics we produce.

Given all these difficulties, a new material like shrilk could be a true game-changer, not only in the conservation movement, but in global consumer behavior. It will be many years before something like shrilk can be mass-produced and introduced to average consumers. But given that in our lifetime, we'll never be able clean up all the plastic trash we've already produced, it's certainly the right step to find a suitable alternative — especially if it can return nutritious byproducts to the environment.

May 7, 2014

Eileen Shim
Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

Intricacies: A Book of Collaborative Drawings Inspired by Nature (Kickstarter)

Intricacies is a forthcoming book of collaborative illustrations between artists Christina Mrozik and Zoe Keller. The black and white drawings of birds, intertwined anatomical studies, and other bits of wildlife stitched with hints of narrative were inspired in part by the rural landscape surrounding their small art studio in Michigan. Each illustration represents 30-50 hours of combined drawing time, with some pieces passed back and forth multiple times between Keller and Mrozik before the piece was finished. The 64-page hardcover book is currently funding over on Kickstarter with just 3 days left. (via Juxtapoz)

ORIGINAL: This Is Colossal
November 28, 2014

Trap Light, Save Energy

Trap Light uses high temperature pigments
Each lamp is produced in Murano Glass
The form is created using a wooden mould
Each lamp is individually blown
The pigment is embedded between layers of glass
Final checks during blowing
Straight from the mould
The Trap Light Collection
Cage detail
Cage detail
Trap Light uses LED light bulbs
Ambient light from the photoluminescent glass
Trap Light is the result of an exciting collaboration between Gionata Gatto (Pedalator, Urban Buds) and Mike Thompson (Latro, Blood Lamp), proposing a radical new approach to lighting design. By utilising photoluminescent pigments to capture escaping light, Trap Light converts waste energy back into visible light. 

Photoluminesence is a process in which energy absorbed by a substance is gradually released as light. Using the Murano glass blowing technique, the designers were able to embed photoluminescent pigments into the glass body of the lamp. Through this process, Trap Light becomes both shade and light source, emitting, absorbing, and re-emitting light. 30 minutes ‘charge’ of recycled light from a traditional incandescent or LED light bulb provides up to 8 hours of ambient lighting

With Trap Light, the designers illustrate, that by taking a fresh approach to traditional production methods and existing materials, they can create an engaging, new lighting experience whilst making the most of energy.

ORIGINAL: Trap Light

miniPCR: A DNA Discovery System for Everyone

 miniPCR: A DNA Discovery System for Everyone's video poster
DNA curious? Open up the world of DNA science and exploration with a portable, powerful, and affordable PCR-based DNA Discovery System

We live in a DNA world. DNA technology helps us diagnose disease, understand our ancestry and origins, establish guilt or innocence in our justice system, and test the water and food we consume every day. Yet DNA technology is still a black box for most of us.

We've created miniPCR to open the world of DNA science to everyone, everywhere.
This is the miniPCR DNA Discovery System:

Together we've reached our first Goal! Here are our Stretch Goals:

To prepare, amplify (copy), and visualize your DNA: With the DNA Family Tree kit, extract your own DNA and make so many million copies of it (in miniPCR) that you’ll see it shine before your eyes (with miniPCR visualizer).

Real-world biotech applications: Learn how DNA can be used to identify people, to detect bacteria in our food, to clone pieces of DNA from one organism into another, and more.

Learn more about the world around you: Engage in citizen science projects such as DNA barcoding, sushi-gate, detect food mislabeling, and (as you get more advanced) use PCR to characterize and discover new animals, plants, and fungi.

How DNA replication works (in our cells and in test tubes): PCR and our software will teach you how the chemistry of DNA allows our cells (and our miniPCR machines) to propagate genetic information.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is at the heart of DNA analysis. PCR is a Nobel-winning technology that lets us make billions of copies of a specific piece of DNA that can be used for genetic analysis.

DNA testing and analysis kits everyone can use.

Get miniPCR for yourself, but don't forget to give one to a school.
More schools have asked for miniPCR, and we've added them!

Schools can now access a case full of DNA technology:

With the miniPCR DNA Discovery System:

  • YOU can take DNA science into your own hands, and share it with your kids.
  • OUR SCHOOLS can teach essential biotechnology and discovery.
  • EVERY LAB in the globe can have access to fundamental DNA analysis tools.

In the past few months, we have made and sold more than one hundred miniPCR machines that have been in use by scientists and students in four continents. See what miniPCR users are saying through these testimonials, and read:

You choice of:

  • The complete miniPCR DNA Discovery System (including a miniPCR Machine)
  • Or just the miniPCR machine (if you already own Pipetting Tools, Gel Electrophoresis, and Visualizer). PLUS you'll get the opportunity to donate cutting-edge DNA science to schools. 

Don't forget to add-on one or more DNA Testing Kits which contain all necessary reagents to do the labs!

The Amplyus team is led by Ezequiel (Zeke) Alvarez Saavedra and Sebastian Kraves. We met >15 years ago in college, where we shared the dream of becoming DNA scientists. Lacking access to lab tools, we learned DNA science mostly from lectures and textbooks. It wasn't ideal, but we fell in love with modern biology. After getting our PhDs at Harvard and MIT, we realized that we could create tools to give everyone access to the world of DNA science and discovery.

Amplyus is currently at the MassChallenge accelerator amidst other like-minded startups that strive to have a positive impact in our world.

Zeke Alvarez Saavedra, PhD, is a geneticist trained at MIT. His work has been cited thousands of times and profiled in The New York Times, National Public Radio and the BBC. Zeke is a patented and licensed inventor of gene-detection technologies.

Sebastian Kraves, PhD, is a molecular neurobiologist trained at Harvard. He has spent more than six years with the Boston Consulting Group addressing high-impact problems in healthcare, such as access to diagnostic technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sebastian has also published on neural circuits, optogenetics, and the genetic regulation of behavior.

miniPCR comes out of the box and into the palm of your hand!

miniPCR will give you access to the full power and quality of a professional grade DNA lab instrument. If you're an experienced PCR user, you'll love its simplicity and convenience. If you're new to DNA analysis, miniPCR and its software will make it incredibly easy to learn.

  • Powerful. miniPCR delivers the same powerful genetic analysis as 10-times larger, $3,000-$10,000 instruments used by biomedical professionals. 
  • Portable. 2 x 5 x 4 inches, so you can take your science with you, or conveniently put miniPCR away when not in use.
  • Simple. Easy to control directly from your Android device or Mac/Windows computer through the miniPCR app.
  • Ready to use. Requires no assembly. Simply plug into your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Or just flick it ON (miniPCR will store its program in memory).
  • Engaging. Through the app, visualize experiments and understand DNA science in real time. Through the clear case, see and understand how miniPCR works.
  • Affordable. At one-tenth the cost of commercial PCR machines, miniPCR is within the reach of homes, schools, and every lab budget.

The miniPCR software makes DNA science more intuitive. It's easy to program and monitor PCR conditions in real time, and export and share data for verification and analysis. It works on Android, MacOS, and Windows, and it's free with miniPCR.

Newcomers more easily grasp the underlying science 

Professional users enjoy the convenience of programming, storing, and monitoring experiments on their own phone or computer

To help you get up and running, we've created these DNA testing kits:

  • DNA Food Safety Lab
  • Forensic DNA Crime Lab
  • DNA Family Tree (see the schematic below)

miniPCR kits come with detailed instructions and have already been used by dozens of teachers and hundreds of students from middle school to college.

If the campaign meets our stretch goal, we will create a GMO detection lab to test whether your food has been genetically engineered.

It's 2014. More than 60 years since Watson and Crick's double helix, and more thanten since we've sequenced the human genome. Yet it's still hard to teach DNA science in our schools. Science is best learned by doing it, but biotech equipment available today is complex, expensive, and hardly education-friendly.

We're out to change that. We won't stop until every kid has access to the exciting world of biotech experimentation and the opportunities it creates.Download this brief document, and share it with your teacher, parent-teacher association, or principal to garner support to bring miniPCR to your classroom

Your pledge will help transform the landscape of science education through our technology, lesson plans, and teacher support.

Why? Just listen to Howard Goldsweig, MD, Biology teacher at The Codman Academy Public Charter School, a Boston inner city school:


In PCR, small DNA sequences called primers search the millions or billions of letters in the genome for the target gene (or DNA region), in the same way that Google searches for a specific set of words in the World Wide Web. During PCR, that target DNA of interest is amplified or copied billions of times, in the same way that a small snippet of text can be broadcast widely using Twitter. To learn how PCR works watch the brief primer below.


Our DNA Discovery System includes everything you'll need for steps 1, 2, and 3. We'll guide and support you if you've never done it before.

miniPCR will allow you to learn, discover, and explore in new ways:
Contribute to citizen science projects: DNA barcoding, sampling biodiversity, detecting food mislabeling, and more...

Make a billion copies of any gene from any organism

Understand more about yourself and the world around us

WHAT ELSE CAN SCIENTISTS DO WITH PCR? The range of DNA detection and modification experiments that doctors and scientists can do with PCR is virtually limitless. Copying DNA has countless applications; this wiki cites a few. PCR can be used to read genes, to detect infections (Ebola, HIV, malaria, many more), and to solve crimes. It can also just bring joy into the lives of biology nerds like us.

DISCLAIMER: We make miniPCR available to homes and schools for research and educational purposes only, and we offer it only with that intent. We believe that as more of us better understand DNA technology, society will be better equipped to make collective and individual decisions related to DNA analysis. We do not make/market/endorse miniPCR for use as a diagnostic or medical tool by laypersons, as we believe that people seeking to make medical decisions should be appropriately supported by medical professionals.

We are serious about science and education -- we love to experiment, but the last thing we’d do is experiment with you. miniPCR has gone through 10 prototypes, 3 beta versions, and one full year of validation of the final design in research labs and classrooms.
We've designed miniPCR from the ground up to make DNA science more accessible

Out of MIT, Zeke worked with a team at Templeman Automation. The team that undertook development and built the first prototype was formed by Zeke, Chris Templeman, Sean Jeffries, Cameron Dube, Dave Thomas, Randy Creasi, and Michael White. We open sourced the design. Early on the team received input from Josh Perfetto and Mac Cowell, who shared ideas and expertise. Thanks to you all!

Sebastian and Zeke decided to found Amplyus to further develop and validate the technology and bring it into manufacturing scale, making miniPCR machines available to everyone, everywhere.

We are now ready to bring miniPCR into full-scale production. Your pledge will help usset up our manufacturing operations locally in Massachusetts, creating jobs and helping lower production cost. It will also help us finalize development of our gel electrophoresis and visualization system.

The primary risk this campaign faces is the timely and efficient procurement of parts, components, and tools needed to manufacture at a larger scale. Luckily, we've spent the last year working with the same supply chain partners, getting to know them, and ensuring their quality and commitment meets ours. We are proud to be working with many local machine shops and suppliers that meet stringent specifications. That said, sourcing components can be a source of delays.

The second risk we'll face is the transition from small-batch production in our own hands to full-scale manufacturing. We've done a number of things to ensure a smooth hand-off. We have identified a local factory right here, in Massachusetts. This will allow us to work closely with our partners to get production rolling (while creating jobs!). Together, we have established standard processes, a quality control and testing plan, and we will soon run a production pilot.

The final challenge will be in working closely with our supporters to keep translating advanced concepts in DNA science into experiences accessible to a broad audience. This is the reason we started this company, and a challenge that we readily embrace.

Some may ask whether there are collateral risks with putting DNA technology into the hands of more people. Can miniPCR fall into the wrong hands and give birth to synthetic species that will colonize earth overnight? Extremely unlikely (sorry to disappoint). First off, it takes years of blood, sweat, and tears by entire teams of highly overtrained biologists to deliver any meaningful genetic transformation. Secondly, any evildoers lurking in the biosphere have access to laboratory tools already capable of doing the same genetic tricks as miniPCR (they are just much more expensive). All this said, we encourage everyone to explore biotechnology with the same spirit of exploration and curiosity that every scientist embodies. With great genetic power comes great responsibility. We believe that the greater risk lies in misinformation and ignorance, not in the dissemination of knowledge.


ORIGINAL: Kickstarter