Okay, it's really cool. I did once get a mention with several sentences in Newsweek (with a very distressed Mickey Mouse on the cover) but this time I got several column inches. However, after I gave the phone interview I came down with a small case of the worries. What if I was misquoted? Worse, what if I was correctly quoted but pulled a Watson? Luckily, what made it in fails to induce embarrassment, though there are bits which I wish hadn't been left out.
The article is well worth reading (though it may become a pay article overnight; I forget the current policy). With luck the wire services & aggregators will pick up on it.
I think anyone interested in genetic testing, DIY-bio, or just science in general should skim the comments thread. There's a lot there to be worried about.
First, a running theme is a worry that Kay will blow up her block or such. Multiple posters, many claiming to work in labs. Now, as Kay's comment (which is nice and level-headed, as I would have expected) points out, she's not using anything liable to do anything like that. For the level of ethanol precipitation she's doing, a fifth of vodka would last quite a long time (an interesting experiment; I remember the Russians are said to have built lasers with the stuff).
A second class of fear is other sorts of toxins, primarily the spectre of ethidium bromide (a known carcinogen) as a DNA stain. There are other, much safer stains, and it turns out that's what's Kay is using.
Another general negative sentiment is that perhaps the city or her landlord should be (or might) shut this down. I'm no lawyer, but this certainly wasn't obviously prohibited by any of my lease agreements. Putting household cleaners in the public's hands (or solvents in the form of nail polish or paint removers) scares me far more than a little PCR.
One more sentiment worth noting: that this sort of thing should be done only in an official laboratory and that Kay shouldn't do this without getting a masters or Ph.D. first. I suspect that these posters aren't aware that many of the same techniques are available in the toy section of any Target or Wal-Mart. True, none of those offer PCR -- but they easily could. PCR can be run without any special gear, though it would be awfully tedious. They are probably also unaware of modern scientists who worked without Ph.D.s (e.g. Nobelist Gertrude Elion) or in home labs (e.g. Nobelist Rita Levi-Montalcini)
On the other end of things, some of the positive posters are a bit worrisome. One makes the quite apropos comparison of this to having a home darkroom, but gets their chemicals confused -- while the stop solution is indeed just acetic acid, the fixer is not "drinkable but dull" but rather cyanide-based (cyanide is a great remover of silver, which is the job of the fixer).
There are also a number of posters who suggest that this information might be used against her by an insurance company or that it would be illegal to withhold it from same. Whether this would be prohibited by GINA isn't considered; I'm guessing the poster's aren't familiar with it. Another poster relishes the idea that
Perhaps she objects to the greed of her peers at Harvard who are charging people for the opportunity to get similar bio data - See http://www.genomeweb.com/blog/round-100.-- which is bizarre, given that the very GenomeWeb article mentions that these tests are free to participants!
Regardless of how poorly informed or quick to leap to conclusions some of these folks are, this is indeed the landscape of public opinion, at least as plumbed by response to this article. It would suggest that there is a lot of educating to do & that it will be an uphill battle. To a lot of people, science means formal labs and formal training and labs mean dangerous chemicals that might explode.