DNA games

BioCurious has a nifty methods article on Labeling λ DNA—if you've ever wanted to know how to tag a strand of DNA with a bead so you can tow it around with your optical tweezers, here's the theory (and they've got optical tweezers? I am so jealous.)

More like this

One of the many very cool things going on in the Laser Cooling Empire at NIST is a series of experiments using optical tweezers to study various biological systems. I used to share an office with the biochemist in the group, who was there to handle the wet chemistry that physicists are notoriously…
If you've ever put a pair of headphones in your pocket, you'll know how difficult it is to keep a long cord in a bundle without getting it hopelessly tangled and knotted. You'll also start to appreciate the monumental challenge that our cells face when packaging our DNA. At 2 metres in length, the…
RFLP is an acronym that stands for "Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism." That's quite a mouthful and once you've said this phrase a few times, you realize why we use the initials instead. I know a Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism sounds like something that must be impossibly…
What's the application? Optical tweezers use focused light beams to trap small particles in the focus of the beam, and drag them around by moving the beam. What problem(s) is it the solution to? 1) "How do we move these tiny little things around without touching them?" 2) "How do we measure the…

Santa: What do you want for Christmas, little boy?
PZ: Multi-beam fast-steerable optical tweezers!!!
Santa: You'll pluck your eye out, kid!

Really cool. Did you know that you can use the laser pointer (yup, the kind you use for giving talks) to play golf with neurons? You can push them around the plate until each cell is sitting inside the little hole on bottom of which is an electrode so you can monitor electrical activity of each neuron.