DNA: Size Does Matter. But is it Science or Art?

by Ann Bartkowski

Last week Karen came in to teach us about DNA and size.  Since DNA is so very itty-bitty, we were having a hard time understanding the magnitude of it and other tiny things we talk about daily but can’t see.  It was really cool imagining the sizes of bacteria, viruses, DNA, and cells relative to each other in terms of objects whose sizes we have a feeling for…such as cabinets and tables and explOratoriums and hypothetical unibrows.    


Then I randomly found this website, which starts with the same idea as our DNA Cheek Cell Extraction Demo but takes it to a whole new level: 

You send your cheek cells in the mail to their company.  They extract your DNA from your cells, then use PCR to amplify unique sections of DNA in your genome.  This DNA is loaded into a gel and a current is run through the gel to separate the DNA based on size.  UV dye is added to the whole thing to make your DNA strands visible, a photograph is taken, and voila!…a giant canvas print with the color scheme of your choice is ready to hang on your wall! 

I think the image looks kind of like a cityscape, and if it didn’t start at $400, I would like one…albeit, I am a bit creeped out by the way their website encourages you to contact them if you think you might be into decorating with DNA from a dead person or pet (they will just need to obtain some mitochondrial DNA from your dead friend’s hair).