Friday, March 21, 2008

Polaroid to stop making instant film

Yup, it's true. A mainstay of family get-togethers in the 1970's is being discontinued. This is the list, from Polaroid, of all the different kinds of film that won't be made anymore.

I remember my grandparents having a camera that took color Polaroids. In this age of instant digital gratification, it may be hard to appreciate how incredible it was to see the picture develop in front of your eyes. I suppose it's obvious, once you think about it, but it's the smushing together, as it is pulled out of the camera, of the two halves of the picture/developer that start the developing process.

My lab at work uses the black and white instant film to photograph agarose gels that we run. After we amplify lots of copies of the DNA fragment of interest (with a process called PCR), we make a gel that has ethidium bromide (EtBr - a carcinogen, btw) in it and wells to load the DNA fragments. Then we run a current through it. When it's done, we can see if the fragment(s) are there, and/or if the results are the right size compared to the ladder of known size we run with it.

We have a light box that passes UV light through the gel, and the EtBr makes the bands light up. We take a black and white polaroid of the gel for our lab notebooks, and also make a digital record as well. There's an example up top (picture from: ) that I took off the web because our system saves the pictures as tiffs.

I guess we should stock up on film, and then we'll have to think about how to save records of our films in the future.

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Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.