Home labs on the rise for the fun of science

One day Kathy Ceceri noticed a tick on her arm and started to worry that it was the kind that carried Lyme disease. So she went to her home lab, put the tiny arachnid under her microscope, which is connected to her computer through a U.S.B. cable, and studied the image.

 “It was,” she said. “Then of course I Googled what to do when you’ve been bitten by a deer tick.”

Ms. Ceceri’s microscope, a Digital Blue QX5, is one of several pieces of scientific equipment that make up her home lab, which she has set up on her dining room table in Schuylerville, N.Y. Home labs like hers are becoming more feasible as the scientific devices that stock them become more computerized, cheaper and easier to use. Ms. Ceceri has several microscopes and a telescope. Other home laboratories have tools like infrared thermometers, which can be used in the kitchen, and kits to analyze DNA at home. Many of these tools work closely with home computers and come with software that enhances their power. Others mix low-cost computers into the hardware to deliver more precise control. Some people who set up home laboratories are serious hobbyists in search of better tools; others are home-schooling parents equipping their children; and others are just curious, report the New York Times. Ms. Ceceri, a writer, seems to fall into all three camps because she teaches her sons Anthony, 15, and John, 18, at home, and then she writes about some of their discoveries for a number of blogs like geekdad.com, geekmom.com and homebiology.blogspot.com.…Read More