www.whyville.net Aug 2, 2009 Weekly Issue

Science Specialist

Science Songs Stuck in My Head . . .

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A couple of years ago, while I was in graduate school, a friend of mine sent me a link to a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) song created by BioRad, a company that sells laboratory reagents and equipment. The song is really an ad for one of the company's thermocyclers, or PCR machine, which revolutionized molecular biology when PCR was first introduced in the 1980s. To make large amounts of DNA copies, scientists used to grow huge amounts of bacteria (pounds of it) and then harvest their DNA from in vivo (in living cells). But PCR allows DNA copies to be made in very small volumes in vitro (in a test tube) using naked DNA and multiple cycles of heating, cooling and new DNA strand synthesis with the enzyme DNA polymerase. A quick PCR primer can be found here. (Ha! . . . I said "primer!" - you'll get the nerdy joke if you click the link.)

Anyway, I played the video over and over, so much that I knew all the words within a few minutes and was crying because I'd laughed so hard. I'll admit, to a general audience not intimately familiar with PCR and its uses, the song's lyrics may not be as hysterical. But the "We Are the World" - inspired video alone might be enough to give you a chuckle or two (that's a PCR machine in the singer's hands):

The PCR Song

Wired Magazine pulled together its list of 10 favorite science songs earlier this month (thanks to our colleague Meg at Northwestern for the heads-up) and there are some goodies on there, including the BioRad song as #1! Personal favorites on the list include the Large Hadron Collider Rap (we've posted about this before), and the Elements Song. (Though notably absent from the list is "City of Dreams", created especially for Science Chicago. Maybe because we don't have a video yet . . .) See how long it takes for some of these songs to get out of your head!


Author's Note: Sources:


Editor's Note: For more blogs from Dr. Rabiah, visit Science Chicago's website at: http://www.sciencechicagoblog.com


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