Looking for a source of one-of-a kind fun on a summer night? It’s in your genes—literally. The Natural History Museum’s exhibition Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code provides the inspiration and the setting for an event that mixes socializing and science to create a party as unique as a strand of your own DNA.
The Evening’s Schedule
6:45 to 9:30 p.m.
DJ and jazz musician Joe Herrera sets the vibe for the DNA Mix. Arlington’s Tortoise and Hare Bar and Grille offers food and drink.
Get To Know Your DNA (Around the Rotunda)
- Pat Phelps, a Smithsonian genetics education specialist, leads informal activities that include DNA trivia, creating a necklace pendant with your own DNA strand, and creating some incredibly cool art using the materials and techniques of DNA testing. And do some tongue-tripping when you get a taste of what a bite of miracle fruit can do.
- Danielle Reed of the Monell Chemical Senses Institute serves up gin, tonic, and genetics as you step up to the “genotype bar” to test how the DNA of your taste receptors causes you to register bitter and sweet tastes.
6:45 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Meet the Genome Geeks (In the Genome Zone)
- Wait, I’m Not Only Human?
Keisha Findley of the National Institutes of Health Sciences introduces you to the neighbors you’ve ignored for so long: the 100 trillion (mostly good) microbes that reside in and on you. Get your microbiome sampled, too.
- Spice Up Your Life!
Are you’re a super-sensor or a hard-core heat handler? Swing by the Chili Challenge table to find out as Lucie Low of the National Institute of Health Sciences explains how the genetics that shape skin sensitivity determine how you take the heat.
- Tiny Terminators March on Stink Bugs
Elijah Talamas of the United States Department of Agriculture guides you in trying your luck at identifying the right parasitic wasp that will knock out a stinky threat to agriculture.
- Excuse Me, Your Genes Are Smelling
Shurjo Sen of the National Institute of Health Sciences offers the Smelly Gene Test to demonstrate how your olfactory receptor genes—nearly 1000 of them—affect your sense of smell and your food preferences. Maybe you'll discover why you’re the only member of your family who loves blue cheese.
- Can You Find Your Thumb?
At the “balance bar,” Belen Hurle of the National Institute of Health Sciences explores the genetic basis of the complex and unconscious process we use to perceive where our body is in space—and to keep it balanced.
8 to 8:30 p.m.
Science Storyteller Sam Kean (in the Genome Zone)
The author of The Violinist’s Thumb and The Disappearing Spoon unravels some tales about DNA you definitely won’t find in a medical text. A book signing follows.
Includes two drink tickets and food. Must be at least 21 years old with valid ID. Not a seated event.
Smithsonian and Other Connections
Get an overview of Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code at the Natural History Museum, which examines the science and ethics of genomics.