One of Brenner's friends way back

…in the 1950s/60s was this guy called Mahlon Hoagland. He’s the person who discovered aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase activity, and also helped discover tRNA itself. Later, Hoagland decided to try and make molecular biology more accessible to the general public; his magnum opus in this direction was The Way Life Works (1995), a picture-book done with cartoonist Bert Dodson. They spun off the DNA cartoon in this book to make a DNA structure puzzle toy. I stumbled across this thing, which was never really marketed… and I wound up inheriting the project! I tweaked the design a little, to make it sturdier, prettier, and much more affordable, and I started a business: now it’s just about to hit the world, so you might want to check it out! The website should launch in the second week of January (that’s next week!) and there’s gonna be a Kickstarter campaign coming real soon too.

What’s special about this new gadget? I think it’s the only DNA structure modeling toy that bends and writhes like real DNA, without losing its proper range of twist… so you can make realistic shapes like hairpins, Holliday junctions, stuff like that. You can really play with it, so I decided to call it ‘PlayDNA!’ It makes a nice hanging ornament too, for the wind to play with. Compatible RNA kits will be available as well. Someday I hope to make RNA bases with noncanonical connectors so we can make properly folded tRNAs…

Who am I? Old former worm embryo postdoc (Bowerman lab, Oregon, 2001-2008), amateur worm-farmer since then (using C elegans in undergraduate teaching labs). I appreciate the Worm Community. Thanks for reading!

…and here’s the kick starter.
Thanks for looking, wormy friends!