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7 DIY test kits that can reveal hidden info about you, your pet, and your home
Learn where your ancestors are from, the breed of your rescue dog, and if your home is safe with these easy at-home kits.
- There is a lot we can learn from the saliva in our mouths and the air in our homes.
- There are at-home DIY tests for just about everything, but not all of them are as accurate as they claim.
- From revealing the breed of your dog to testing your home for harmful gases, these kits are worth the money.
We've all heard the ads and seen the commercials. If you want to know where your great grandparents are from or if your beagle has a little golden retriever in him, there is a kit for that and it can be on your doorstep in 2 business days. The market for do-it-yourself medical kits is projected to reach $340 million by 2022, and with that comes more companies overselling themselves and their product as cheap alternatives to real science. Not all at-home test kits are bad, but some are more worth it than others.
Scientists and experts warn that consumers should proceed with caution when it comes to offering up their DNA and personal information. Adding your spit (or your dog's slobber) to a tube and blindly sending it to a PO Box across the country is not a small thing, which is why the reputation of those offering the services and reviews by independent parties are important. For the DIY kets on this list, we looked at recommendations from trusted sources, as well as online customer reviews to see which products delivered on their promises and which should be avoided. From radon testers to ancestry and health reports, here are 7 ways to discover more important information about your life.
Dying to know what breed your adorable companion really is? This easy and affordable test can help! While scientists warn that the science of pet DNA tests is not yet perfect, the Embark Dog Breed + Health has a few things working in its favor. First and foremost, it was developed through a partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (one of the top veterinary colleges in the United States) and geneticist Spencer Wells. The doggie saliva swab test screens for 250 breeds and tests for over 170 genetic diseases, though a trusted doctor should be consulted before any treatment begins. Rescue moms and puppy pops reviewing the product on Amazon reported receiving their results in 2-7 weeks, but the wait is worth it.
According to the EPA, the older the house the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint. The U.S. government banned the use of lead-containing paint in 1978, but there are millions of homes that are still filled with the potentially hazardous material. Since 2008, only three lead test kits have been recognized by the agency's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. 3M's Lead Check is listed as Amazon's Choice for such kits, and the reviews support the pick. The disposable swabs can be used on any surface. There are 8 in this pack, which should be enough to test every room in an average home. If lead is detected, the swabs turn pink in as little as 30 seconds, alerting the user that future steps need to be taken to ensure the safety of his/her family.
Combining the company's ancestry service with health predisposition reports, this package deal is a bargain for the price. With only a swab of saliva, buyers can learn where their family hails from across 1500+ regions included in 23andMe's databases. The kit includes over 150 personalized genetic reports on variables such as traits, ancestry, wellness, and carrier status for numerous diseases, disorders, and deficiencies. 23andMe is the first direct-to-consumer DNA company to be granted FDA approval for tests associated with cancer risks, which has done a lot for their reputation in recent months.
According to a multi-test comparison conducted in 2012 by Good Housekeeping and the Water Sciences Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the PurTest Water Analysis kit most accurately detected the things it said it would on the label. Using vials and test strips, the kit does not involve sending samples to a lab for analysis and does not have additional fees added onto the retail price. Everything you need to test up to 19 samples is right in the package, including a handbook and results sheet.
The second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that you do not want around your family and pets. Recommended by Consumer Reports as a great option for longer-term, more accurate testing, the Accustar Alpha Track Test Kit AT 100 is very easy to use. Once opened, the device is exposed to the air you want to test for between 3 months and a full year. It is then returned to Accustar's lab using a prepaid shipping label, and all you have to do is wait a few weeks for the very important results to arrive.
If you're concerned that a substance in your home may be mold but aren't ready to hire a professional inspector, this highly rated DIY Mold Test Kit may be the best solution. The product contains tape lift samples for surface testing as well as an inspection booklet so that at-home consumers know where and what to look for. The samples are shipped to a lab and once they are analyzed, the consumer receives an email with the findings. Lab fees are included in the buying price in every state except Texas, where an additional $24 fee is applied.
What do hikers, pet owners, hunters, and gardeners all have in common? A shared enemy: the deer tick. Finding one of those tiny bloodsuckers after a day outdoors can be scary. This kit allows for DNA-based screening to see if the culprit is a carrier of the disease Lyme borreliosis. Testing is provided by the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory at East Stroudsburg University, with 99.9 percent accurate results delivered within three days of the lab receiving your samples.
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Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
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Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?
In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
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