User:Jonathan Cline/Notebook/Melaminometer/As proof of DIY Bio
Use of synthetic biology has been proposed by OpenWetWare and related individuals/labs/groups as a means for non-scientists to use biotechnology. I propose creation of a simple and much needed chemical detector as one possible method of testing the idea of "DIY Bio". This theoretical "Melaminometer" detector registers presence of both melamine and/or cyanuric acid; original proposal below.
-------- Original Message -------- Subject: actually 'doing bio' Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2008 06:26:17 -0700 (PDT) From: JonathanCline <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: DIYbio I would like to propose a real example regarding diy bio. Currently in asia, as reported on HK news, there are 10,000 babies in the hospital after being poisoned with melamine from purposely-tainted milk products. Note that melamine has now been found in M&M's, in oreo cookies, in cereal.. I dunno about you guys, I like M&Ms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine#2008_Chinese_milk_scandal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal It occurred to me this week as I was attempting to buy some cereal over here in asia.. and looking at the palettes of quaker oats "on discount", I'm not too encouraged that all the contaminated food is being, or will be, actually disposed of. I would like a melamine detector so I could test the food in my fridge and the food from the store. Some of the contaminated food will get "curiously" re-directed to resellers as discount stock and may be re-sold for years through local channels - the locals need this detector too. So sure would be nice to have a cheap melamine detector. I'm not talking about something fancy, like taking a sample of food to send to a lab which reports the result in 1 week or 1 day. I'm talking about something I can stir up in the kitchen for years to come that turns red within an hour for "don't eat this." This should be a simple DIYBIO project, right? I am encouraged by open source biology because open source has been shown to have the quickest response time for problems found in the field. Simple example: When someone found a major flaw in Intel Pentium chips, the Illegal Instruction errata, and Intel admitted it was a valid problem, it took the Linux community something less than a week (if memory serves -- something like 3 days?) to come up with a runtime patch which scanned all applications at runtime for the security risk. This was a very high tech solution to a very threatening computer security problem which "endangered" everyone who had an Intel computer. Whereas, Microsoft took months to release a patch, and SUN microsystems I believe took even longer to patch their version of unix. Open source took days, and commercial entities took months (not even willing to admit there was a problem). Keeping all this in mind, how would I build melamine detecting "yogurt" in my garage right now? I mean a solution which is cheap (less than $0.50 per use), stand- alone, and usable by an 8 year old, so that the non-bio savvy masses can test their own oreo cookies before dunking them into soy milk, Shouldn't open source bio heads be able to get a working device validated in less than 3 months? (BTW, if precursors etc to melamine needs detecting, then the device should do that as well.) A simple problem. At least from the applications angle.