Tag Archives: Fun

A Different Kind of Artwork

PlayDNA Lab TimesPlayDNA is in the news again – this time in the scientific press.

“Combining art and science in England’s historic heart, a few mavericks produce individual pieces of art from their customers’ DNA.

So is it art, science, or education?” In the case of PlayDNA…..it is a bit of each”.

We’re not sure we’d personally describe ourselves as ‘mavericks’ exactly (!) although we do like to think we’re making science more accessible, fun and cool!

You can read the full article here: Lab Times article

Lab Times has already established itself as one of the most popular Life Science journals in Europe and is recognised as a grassroots magazine produced by scientists for scientists.

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PlayDNA gets thumbs up from Debenhams crowd!

Debenhams wedding fairAfter an overwhelmingly positive response to our first wedding fair at the 5* Randolph Hotel, Oxford, in January we were delighted to be invited to exhibit our new range of Framed Prints at the Debenhams Oxford department store last weekend.

Following hot on the heels of Valentines Day, the traditional British retailer held a Wedding Fair on Saturday 16th February 2013 to celebrate love, commitment – and how to have a fabulous wedding!

Dr Sam talks through our new product range

Dr Sam talks through our new product range with some keen shoppers

Dr Sam explains the interpretable nature of a PlayDNA portrait

Dr Sam explains the interpretable nature of a PlayDNA portrait – and why they make such great wedding gifts!

As well as the many excited brides and grooms, a busy Saturday crowd kept PlayDNA Founders Dr Samantha Decombel and Dr Stuart Grice chatting about their novel artwork all afternoon. More than one person were stopped in their tracks by the colourful display pieces and paused to admire the ‘extremely cool’ and ‘fascinating’ artworks as they browsed the aisles.

As a wedding gift never to be forgotten you certainly couldn’t do better than a PlayDNA portrait – a fun way to see how compatible the bride and groom might be!

Do opposites attract? Or are you the perfect match? Beautiful genetic portraits for couples and families that come complete with your own DNA analysis and guide.

Available now, just contact sam@playdna.co.uk for more information or take a look at our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/playdna.

Own a wedding portrait as unique as you


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Filed under Events and exhibitions, New Products

How genetics is helping the snow leopard

Brrr! The snow is still falling here in Oxfordshire and has all but the bravest of us confined to our homes.

Unusually among cats, their eyes are pale blue/green or grey in colour.

One animal that doesn’t mind the cold however is the majestic snow leopard.

Found throughout the major mountain ranges of Central Asia, including the remote Himalayas, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is among the most elusive of all the big cats.

Unlike us, snow leopards have a number of perfect adaptations for living in a cold mountainous environment. Their bodies are short and stocky, their fur is thick, and their ears are small and rounded, all of which helps to minimise heat loss. Their paws are wide, which distributes their weight better when walking on snow, and their tails are thick due to storage of fats and are very thickly covered with fur which allows them to be used like a blanket to protect their faces when they sleep.

Curiously the snow leopard cannot roar, and instead, much like a domestic moggy, they hiss, chuffle, mew, growl and wail.

Sadly, although perhaps unsurprisingly, the snow leopard is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN, the largest global conservation network. Just 3,000 to 7,500 individuals are believed to exist, although given its secretive nature it has been difficult for conservationists to work out exactly how many of these beautiful animals there are left in the wild.

Can you spot the elusive snow leopard? Yes, there really is one there!Image courtesy of Kim Murray, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Assistant Director of Science

Can you spot the elusive snow leopard? Yes, there really is one there! Tip: look just below the rocky outcrop on the left…
Image reproduced from: snowleopardblog.com/spot-the-snow-leopard, courtesy of Kim Murray, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Assistant Director of Science

This is where genetics has been invaluable in helping the conservationists estimate the numbers of wild snow leopard in certain areas.

Scientists in Nepal collected samples of “scat” (snow leopard poo to you and me) and, using the same genetic techniques we do in creating your PlayDNA portrait, profiled the ‘poo’ to work out how many individual snow leopards were in each area, and even what gender they are.

This is really important information to a conservationist as it allows them to see how human activity might be affecting snow leopard populations, identify areas of high conservation priority and assess the effectiveness of any potential conservation action. All with minimal interference to the snow leopard.

Let’s hope their efforts are rewarded by a resurgence in the numbers of these magnificent beasts.

– written by Dr Samantha Decombel, Founder (PlayDNA)




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Too many sweets? Have some halloween science fun!

So it’s Halloween, and the trick and treater’s are out in force tonight. Sweets and chocolate seem to be the favourite ‘treat’ option, but when the kids trek home with a bucket full of candy, what to do with it all?!

Well, why not try out this quick and entertaining science experiment with your kids? It’s a great excuse to combine a bit of science fun with munching your way through all those sweets!

Take it in turns to try chewing a flavoured sweet while holding your nose – can you tell what flavour it is without looking at the wrapper? Let go of your nose and – voila! The flavour becomes apparent! Why not try it with different flavours to see if you can tell the difference?

This experiment neatly (and tastily!) demonstrates that smell and taste are very closely linked. Over 90% of what we think of as ‘taste’ is actually smell.

Want a healthy option to play this game? You can also try it with different fruit, although the distinctive textures can be a give away (a tip: telling the difference between apple and potato can be tricky!). We’d love to hear what other food you found this works with too!

Did you know? Our Personal DNA Portrait will reveal whether you have the gene for ‘bitter-tasting’ and as a result can taste the bitter compounds found in many green vegetables – a genetic reason for avoiding the Brussels Sprouts this Christmas. Yes, really!

Find out more about our unique DNA Art here: http://www.playdna.co.uk/personal-dna-profile.php

Happy Hallowe’en everyone!

– Dr Sam

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