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We live in a pretty amazing time and place. (If you’re reading this, I’ll presume that “we” probably includes you, even if you don’t know it yet.) We have at our disposal the ability to gather, share, collaborate over and interpret more data than any other generation in human history before us.

TeloMe just finished a crowdfunding campaign that introduced the world’s first low-cost, direct-to-consumer telomere analysis, only a few months after Talking20 introduced DTC blood tests and uBiome and The American Gut Project made DTC micriobiome analysis available for cheaper than they’ve ever been. If your head doesn’t teem with the possibilities for new better experiments (outside of the laboratory and in the real world), then you’re not thinking big enough yet.

A proposal:
Track the hormone levels (namely cortisol) and telomere lengths of students graduating high school, or college, or even middle school. Or adults changing jobs. Or teachers throughout a semester or over the course of a year. Measure the effects of the changing of the seasons or the advent of final exams on people willing to take spit and blood samples, and measure their mood every once in a while. Explore the relationship between a changing diet and a changing microbial ecosystem in your stomach or mouth or on your skin. Measure those changes against hormone levels or telomere lengths, and track it over time. It’s cheaper than it’s ever been. Spend $200, organize a group of participants to do the same, collect the data, write up your results and become a pioneer in independent science. You may not win a Nobel or turn your off-the-grid research into a career, but I guarantee you’ll be captivated by the process.

(Parents, do this for your kids. Get them started with Play-Doh and Legos and biomarker assays, and they’ll thank you later.)

Being a scientist isn’t difficult. We have what we need to discover new things – about ourselves, each other, and the world we inhabit.

A world with more scientists – more hypotheses and experiments and critical, rational thinking – is a better-understood and more understanding world. It’s a better world. Please, become a scientist today, because that’s a world I want to live in.

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