I Needed to do my Part to Save the World.

A year and a half ago I was confused why I was not happy. I believe that the meaning of life is “love and work”. In 2015 I finally had a stable job that paid $27,000+ per year and there was a strong potential that I would get promoted. I also had recently met the lovely Maria Hull. I had filled the huge holes in my life created in 2013 but there was still something missing.

As I thought about what I was missing I realized that my world was burning. Wars, extinctions and other catastrophes seem to be happening with increasing frequency and what was I doing about the catastrophes? I worked in a Pacemaker Battery Factory which is actually one of the more meaningful jobs I’ve held (HR says my labor saves an average of eight lives a day). But I was unhappy because I knew that I could do so much more to make the world a better place. What do you do with the mad that you feel? I began prototyping a series of toys that are going to make it much easier for students to become literate in the language of life.

dna-a-summaryI started reading everything I could about 3D printing and design. I tried to find local resources teaching about 3D printing but short of enrolling in a course at a university, there was nothing. The Twin Cities Makers and Nordeast Makers did not respond to my emails for weeks so I resolved to buy my own 3D printer. It took me a week to assemble my first printer and then another week to calibrate all the settings and get useful prints out of it. In that third week after my Printerbot had arrived I was amazed at how much I could accomplish. Many of the more complicated things that people had been telling me I should do when 3D modeling were irrelevant if you were not using an SLS printer.

TonyStarchIn these early days I was certain that if I just put in enough time, all of the mysteries of 3D printing would reveal themselves to me and I would be able to lead the manufacturing revolution. My goals have had to become more realistic since then but I am two or three months away from being free to publicly disclose the bioinformatics toy that got me started on this whole journey.

I am prototyping a series of kits that will make it much easier for students to become literate in the language of life. Organic molecules interact in complicated ways that I was able to understand fairly well by just reading textbooks and looking at pictures but I saw a lot of my fellow students struggle with complicated topics in protein folding and DNA mutations. Textbooks try to depict 3 dimensional structures and forces in 2 dimensions. Printing 2D representations of organic molecules was the most cost effective method of teaching at the time I was in school but 3d printers have become really cheap. In biology, the 3 dimensional structures that molecules fold into determines the way that those molecules function.   Having a kit that models the shape and charge properties of DNA and other organic molecules will allow students to understand how tiny differences in genetic coding can result in big changes in function. Give me your contact information if you would like to hear about the launch of my kickstarter campaign to get the DNA kit made with injection molding in two or three months.

This might sound obscure or nerdy to laymen but trust me, students trying to learn how genes become proteins will find my bioinformatics kits very useful and the possible inventions that can come from a better understanding the language of life are endless. The first thing I am going to use my bioinformatics toy to invent is “new RuBisCo” a protein that will stop global warming in its tracks.

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