Sidharta Guha Thakurta

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24th May, 2011. Day one.

Imagine your first day of school. Imagine the overwhelming excitement and fear. Imagine being engulfed and fueled by a giant ball of energy in whatever you did.

Imagine this day now transcending into the life of a twenty year old.

Somewhere along the fifteen year break, being pushed into getting back to education in the middle of summer has caused me to not feel any of the aforementioned. I do not know why I opted for iGEM. A course to rip apart my two and a half month summer break? Yes, sure. Why not? The first day felt painful. We did some research on Synthetic Biology. Somewhere along the day, the fact that every single living organism is a bloody fantastic design of nature struck me. My vaguely unexplainable curiosity in Biology was re-established. This made things easier.

Some pretty neat sites are:

25th May, 2011. Day two.

Today felt more like Art School. Today felt good. Practically everyone came up with some whacky ideas regarding what they could make form(less) bacteria do. I thought of mass producing bioluminescent bacteria for ambient lighting purposes. However, something along the same line has already been done. Damn. My second idea was figuring out a bacteria to counteract epileptic seizures. I am still pursuing this.

The second-half of class today was really bloody fun. We extracted our DNA. This is a fairly easy process.

1. Rinse your mouth with salt water and spit it out (fun part) into a test tube. Make sure you rinse well enough. Doing this gently scrapes your cheek cells away.

2. Carefully add dish washing liquid into the test tube. Make sure you do it relatively slow enough. For best results pour it along the inner wall of the test tube.

3. This is the last step. Pour chemist's alcohol into the test tube, guiding it along the inner walls. Your aim here is to allow the alcohol to float right above the layers of dish wash and salt water spit.

    Within twenty seconds of waiting you can find clusters floating on the surface. This is your DNA & bacteria clumped together. 
   DO NOT DRINK THE CHEMIST'S ALCHOHOL. NO, its nothing like absinthe or moonshine. 

It was time to bury my DNA. I had a rather eccentric ceremony with things I like the most. A Beatles case to depict love for music. A rubber keychain from The Museum of Science Boston with Einstein on it to depict knowledge and black beads to depict respect for all that is unknown.

26th May, 2011. Day three.

Today I finally had the chance to do something I've wanted to for a pretty long time. Today we made a pretty decent microscope out of a rather inexpensive webcam. This is pretty much the cheapest and one of the most important DIY lab equipments. The process is as follows:


1. Open up a webcam. Make sure you do not get too much dust on the CCD chip.

2. Invert the lens and fit it back into the webcam. It should be a snug fit to not let any light leak around the edges.

3. Screw the case back on.

4. If you want to know your magnification, just take a picture of your computer screen with the webcam. The width of one pixel (this can be found out by opening the picture on a photo-editing software) is your magnification power.

After this, we began looking for what we need for an up and running Micro-Biology lab. We volunteered to make the various equipments. I am responsible for making a water bath. I begin work soon.