The LavaAmp at Wired Science

Wired is carrying a short story about personal genome sequencing that has a description and photo of the LavaAmp.

The caption describes the LavaAmp as "an experimental DNA copying machine."  I don't want to nitpick -- much -- but the instrument is certainly past being experimental.  There is data published using a very similar machine, the founders of LavaAmp have produced data using the instrument shown in the photo, and we will be shipping the v0.2 model to several Beta testers (okay, Alpha testers) as soon as the new heaters come back from the fab.  The project is moving pretty fast.

On the later point, the whole "Bits and Atoms" conversation really does deserve more attention.  As discussed in my previous post on the subject, it may be that much of the outsourced fabrication capacity available via the web is only available because of the present economic downturn.  But it is still available, and I have to say I have never had it easier in terms of shooting a design out the door and getting hardware (and plasticware) back according to my specs -- in just a few days, too.  And at really reasonable prices.

Even if the economy picks up and larger manufacturers sop up some of the extra capacity, my guess is that we are seeing the demonstration of a new market for rapid prototypes and small lots.  I doubt very much that people like me -- who are getting used to using the "send" button for emailed designs as a metaphorical "print" button for the atoms specified by those designs -- will want to give up this new capability.  And if demand for this service is maintained, or more likely increases, as the economy revives then all the more cability will be supplied via my atom-printing button.

I am still lusting after a desktop CNC mill, though.