April 12, 2007

The code of all living things

Although we learn that all living things contain DNA, it might seem a bit to abstract to many kids. And when we think of DNA, we picture the beautiful double helix, right? Well, it does sort of look like that, if we view it through the best microscopes there is. But if we look at it with our bare eyes, it looks more like snot. Or a blob, if you like. If you do not believe me, check it out for yourself. Exploring this fact is very easy, it is maybe one of the simplest experiments there is. There are many different protocols that work in the same manner.

I have had success with the ingredients mentioned below, and the procedure (in Norwegian) can be found at Nysgjerrigper.no (written by Hanne Finstad).

a sample of something living
cold water
salt (NaCl)
detergent (soap of some sort, containing sodium lauryl sulphate)
bicarbonate
isoprophanol

There are plenty of good resources on this in english too, the research language above all. I have probably only seen a small percentage of them, but here are a few excellent sites:

How to extract DNA from anything living The University of Utah (with a funny twist)
DNA extraction The Gene School (good explanations)
How to extract DNA from fruits Fun Science Gallery (descriptive photos)

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