A lot of incredible animals have emerged throughout the billions and billions (and billions) of years Earth has been evolving, the majority of these species inhabiting our vast oceans (remember the neon glow jellyfish?). And for a San Francisco woman Merideth Patterson, who’s labeled as one of the world’s synthetic scientists, these animals arose her curiosity to begin experimenting with Sea Pansy jellyfish. Except it’s not what you think. The green fluorescent protein (GFP) allows for the jellyfish to give off a neonlike glow, but never did it occur to us that this GFP could be applied to everyday produce…like our food. More specifically: Glo-gurt.
Patterson performs a lot of experiments, so don’t think taking the proteins from jellyfish to make glowing yogurt is the only thing she’s up to. But the Glo-gurt is among one of the most striking.
By taking a GFP plasmid samples from the Carolina Biological Supply Company (kept preserved by freezing), Patterson was able to combine her DIY-grown yogurt bacteria and the plasmids to modify her own version of Glo-gurt. But like every amateur scientists learns, in order for this to happen there needs to be a electroporation device involved (exposing the said cells to a 2,500-volt, pulsed electrical field, essentially “tasering” them, as Patterson puts it).
After an interview with Patterson, Popular Science is calling her one of the few “ambitious amateurs” out there, whose innovations are seen as rare among the science community (that never stopped Dr. Frankenstein!). She said in the interview the idea was a lot simpler than most would think; she wanted to “go to a rave with glow sticks she could eat.”
This just reinforces that some of the rarest and magical ideas happen on the fly, reflecting a lot of the most phenomenal American inventions came to be by making a drastic move or change—Mark Zuckerberg fleeing to Palo Alto for Facebook’s emergence, Ben Franklin feeling to Philadelphia to go on and discover the odometer and the lightning rod (in Patterson’s case, moving to San Francisco).
Synthetic scientists “hope to do for the chromosome what Steve Jobs did for the computer,” taking what they have and hopefully someday turning it into something extraordinary (with the right tools and knowing how to use them, of course).