Art Imitates DNA

It has recently been possible to pay a service a little bit of money and learn more about your own DNA. You might find out you really aren’t Italian after all or that you are more or less susceptible to some ailments. [Paul Klinger] had his DNA mapped and decided to make a sculpture representing his unique genetic code. The pictures are good, but the video below is even better.

The project requires a DNA sequencing, a 3D printer, and a Raspberry Pi Zero. Oh, you can probably guess you need a lot of RGB LEDs, too. Of course, the display doesn’t show the whole thing at one time — your DNA pattern scrolls across the double helix.

By far, the most expensive part of the project was the sequencing. [Paul] got the 30X service which starts at about $600. You can get more analysis for two to four times that price. A bit much for a sculpture, but if you wanted or needed it anyway, the additional cost for the sculpture is pretty low if you have the 3D printer. (You could also save a lot of money by just using random colors, and nobody would be the wiser.)

The Pi’s default I2C baudrate is very low and that prevented a refresh faster than twice a second. However, [Paul] has instructions on how to boost the speed and wound up with 10 updates per second.



8 thoughts on “Art Imitates DNA

  1. Great project, but I serioiusly doubt this statement: “(You could also save a lot of money by just using random colors, and nobody would be the wiser.)” I bet an expert in genetics gets used to certain patterns in the data and seeing a random arrangement of colors would frustrate their expectations. For everyone else, it’s way cool. :-)

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.