Fred Turner, a brunette 17-year-old from Yorkshire, England, was sick of jokes that his ridiculously redheaded brother Gus had a different father. So, naturally, he did a shitload of research and figured out how to build his own DNA testing machine. £400 and a year’s worth of trial and error later, Fred had a functional polymerase chain reaction machine built solely of parts he found around the house or could easily acquire, as opposed to buying a brand new one that would have set him back around £3,000.
Once it was built, he immediately put it to use, collecting cells from his brother’s cheek and putting them, along with other chemicals, into the machine’s centrifuge, soon after heating them to release the DNA. Yadda, yadda, yadda, and he ended up with more DNA than he started with, so it’s essentially a DNA Xerox machine. He then sent his brother’s DNA to a lab, which sent him back a genome sequence. Fred searched through Gus’ genes for the genetic mutation that causes red hair, and sure enough, he found it, proving that his mother wasn’t some loveless whore like all the schoolkids potentially could have said.
If you thought the knowledge and comfort this discovery brought Fred was the prize, you’d be wrong. He was named the UK Young Engineer of the Year, and has been accepted to Oxford to study biochemistry as a result. But when I built that complicated mirror system that one time in high school to make my genitalia look seven times bigger, all I got was 49 years’ bad luck. Check out a short interview with Fred below.