When Your Coffee Maker Is Also a Spectrometer

London-based designer Alex Duffner creates dual-purpose lab/kitchen gadgets

Photo: Alex Duffner

Why settle for a run-of-the-mill coffee maker or boring old slow cooker when you could have a coffee-making-spectrometer and a slow-cooking-PCR-cycler? That was Alex Duffner's thinking, at least. A London-based designer, Duffner has created a series of "Domestic Science Machines"—so far, in addition to the coffee maker and slow cooker, he has made a salad-spinning centrifuge and a microscope/webcam. 

He spoke with Wired UK about the inspiration behind the project: 

Duffner's idea for the domestic machines came from his visits to the labs of scientific titans CERN in Switzerland and the Diamond Light Source (DLS) synchotron in Oxfordshire. "The physicists at the Large Hadron Collider and synchrotron created simple analogies, often related to the kitchen, when explaining complex scientific concepts," says Duffner, 24. "At the DLS, they explained that the pressure build-up was similar to a coffee machine's."

Ultimately, he says he wants to encourage child-like curiosity in the kitchen and make science seem accessible, inviting and normal for everyone. "The use of wood and ceramics instead of plastic and metal are a contrast to the look of scientific instruments, that are often cold and uninviting," he writes on his website. "Through my designs I hope to inspire a new-found curiosity for our own environments and inspire people to turn their homes into a new ground for scientific discoveries."

Here, you can see how a few of these gadgets work: 

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