Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Beer With Fluorescent Yeast

The $199 kit gets a little help from jellyfish genes

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The Odin/Facebook

A former NASA biologist just launched a kit to help everyday home brewers step up their beer game by making beverages that glow, because who needs those regular amber hues anymore?

Josiah Zayner left his job in synthetic biology to start his own company, The Odin, which has a goal of increasing the accessibility of science and technology research, as Gizmodo reports. Zayner and The Odin produce kits for interested parties to conduct their own experiments, of sorts, and this bioluminescent beer kit is no different.

The fluorescent yeast kit uses a gene from a jellyfish and retails for $199. It requires about 10 hours of work over the span of two days before a user can get down to brewing.

“There is no impact on the flavor of the beer with the GFP engineering kit,” Zayner tells Eater. “You can literally add the engineered yeast to honey and water (or mash or wort) and the yeast will ferment and fluoresce.”

“This kit demonstrates the power and simplicity of genetic engineering by adding plasmid DNA to the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae so that it turns a fluorescent green color,” the kit’s guide reads. When used in a batch of home brew, the fluorescent yeast will produce a beer that glows under a blacklight, much as tonic water does, albeit for different reasons (tonic water contains quinine, which produces a similar glow as engineered yeast).

The kit has come under some scrutiny from the FDA, but Zayner says The Odin is not trying to sell food-grade materials, and has done research to demonstrate that the kits are not toxic or allergenic. “Honestly, when I started working on this stuff I was just trying to create something cool and push genetic design into the mainstream consumer market,” he says. “We are trying to sell a kit that allows people to create a new type of yeast that they can then possibly use to ferment with. We are trying to create a whole new industry, a whole new way of life where people can use genetic design freely in their homes.”

Zayner’s kit puts beer in a category of other weird glowing foods, including some Floam-colored udon noodles made by a Japanese food scientist and glow-in-the-dark ice cream made at a pop-up ice cream shop in Australia using UV-reactive liquid coloring.

 

Scientists Say, “Printing Humans May Be The Best Way To Conquer Space”

FUTURISTIC HUMAN

From pizza to prostheses, 3-D printers are being used to whip up all sorts of things. And now scientists are talking about “printing” out batches of people to colonize outer space.

Sounds wacky, but these guys are serious.

“Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet,” Adam Steltzner, lead engineer on NASA’s Curiosity rover mission, said at a futurist conference held this month in Washington, D.C.

After all, scientists including Stephen Hawking believe our very survival depends on “escaping our fragile planet” and colonizing other planets. Of course, landing humans on other planets is no simple task. A short hop to nearby Mars could take up to 300 days and cost over $6 billion. Once we got there, if we were to hit the red planet’s atmosphere at the same speed that the Curiosity rover did, our retinas would detach from our eyeballs. Yikes.

Instead, why not just seed the galaxy with tiny organisms designed to recreate our species? Here’s how that might work.

Scientists already know that microbes can survive long stints in space. In fact, some scientists theorize that alien microbes hitched a ride aboard comets or meteorites and brought life to Earth.

Based on that idea, some biologists believe it’s possible to send bacteria to terraform a planet — make its environment hospitable for human life. The bacteria would also be encoded with human DNA.

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“It’s sort of like an iPod that you send to another planet. And the bacteria can store information very densely,” Gary Ruvkun, a biologist at Harvard University, told Motherboard.

Ruvkun said he believes we’ll have the technology to store the human genome in bacteria within a decade or two. The trickier part is programming instructions into the bacteria that will tell them what to do once they reach their destination.

“If we could also send along assembly instructions, for the bacteria to produce an array of descendent organisms that assemble the genome segments over some time period into a human, it is a way to ‘print’ humans remotely,” Ruvkun told The Huffington Post in an email.

Just as the human egg cell is programmed by our DNA to divide, replicate and develop into a human, so bacteria could be programmed by our DNA to do the same thing, Ruvkun explained.

“This is far beyond our ability to program bacteria,” he added. “Now. But 1,000 years from now, we will be able to do it. One thousand years is a blink in a 4 billion year timescape.

Just a blink. And humans are relatively young in the vast timeline of our universe. If you let your mind run wild, you might even wonder whether weare the product of tiny bacteria someone else programmed to colonize Earth, Ruvkun said.

“Perhaps Earth was terraformed in this way,” Ruvkun said in the email. “More likely, we are a big mistake and the cute little puppy dogs that should have dominated the Earth have been trumped by a glitch called humans.”