Space & Innovation

We Got Our DNA Tested, Here's How It Actually Works

Ever wondered how scientists can determine someone's eye color just by looking at their spit? We sat down with an expert to find out.

In 1953, we found the double-helix shape of DNA, the building block of all life as we know it. In 2003, humans finally sequenced our own DNA, which was a huge milestone in understanding ourselves. But today, with a few clicks, we can order a DNA testing kit to see what these blocks build for each of us.

A, T, C, and G are the base compounds of DNA, and they come in pairs. There are about three billion pairs in each DNA strand. So many, that we can only sample a few. Scientists do research all the time to identify specific groups of these pairs called genes. Genes can cause blue eyes, thick earwax, or even tell where you're really from.

As scientists get more and more DNA samples they'll be able to compare more and more people to find these genetic components that make up our lives by comparing all these different genomes. When you get tested, you can elect to add your DNA to the world-wide database of humanity.

To learn more about how DNA testing really works, check out the video above.

Read More:

BBC: How does DNA testing work?

U.S. National Library of Medicine: How is genetic testing done?

Nature: The family history: the first genetic test, and still useful after all those years?