In my last entry, I mentioned that you can print out DNA for viruses and genetic programs. You can, for example, order genes printed to your specifications at Blue Heron Biotechnology. But you can also print out large 3-D models of molecules, avoiding the hassle of those crappy kits from organic chemistry class. Through the magic of rapid prototyping 3-d printing capability, you can make models of an ever-increasing array of interesting molecules.
This is a picture of my favorite molecule: transfer RNA. I like it so much, I had the people at 3-D Molecular Designs custom-build me a model. You can get your own for $30 these days. I paid a lot more than that because (A) I got mine last year and (B) because I asked for a particular molecule: 1yfg yeast initiator tRNA. You can read what David Goodsell said about tRNA in his Molecule of the Month column. But if you’re interested in understanding the meaning of life and how it relates to tRNA, read my new essay on the topic: The pen of Thoth and the meaning of life.