Liz A. Vogel (lizvogel) wrote in little_details,
Liz A. Vogel

Pocket Paternity Test / Paternity Test Time

Setting is the real world (Zurich, not that it matters), today-ish.

Searched on "paternity tests", "how does paternity testing work" and "how long does a paternity test take", read the Wikipedia article, browsed the "~science: biology: genetics" tag here, etc. I'm finding a lot of stuff about the requirements for courtroom-admissible tests, and a fair amount about "peace of mind" testing, but not much on what the actual process of running the test looks like, in layman's terms. And of course, not much about the extreme edges of what's currently possible, which is where my scenario probably sits.

What I need to know is, how long does running the test itself actually take, for a conclusive paternity test, and how big/complicated does the equipment have to be?

Is it remotely feasible, given current technology, and with sufficient backing and resources, that my character might have a sort of pocket analyzer, custom-built to make one specific comparison in... five minutes? An hour? An afternoon? Or might she have a semi-portable analysis set-up in her bathroom? Or is she really going to need a lab (and possibly a technician to run it)? Secrecy is a major concern, so the fewer outsiders she can involve, the better, but the science does need to hold up for a modern (non-science-fiction) reader.

If she does need a lab, how long does that have to take? Commercial labs seem to offer two-day turnaround at best, but how much of that is bureaucracy and how much is because science can't be rushed? What, realisitically, is the fastest possible time for a conclusive result, given a dedicated lab/technician/etc.?

Legal requirements and jurisdictional variations aren't relevant; this is not a situation that's ever going to see the inside of a courtroom. The character doing the testing is a spy, so she can have access to technology that isn't available in the local pharmacy, and the story is set about ten years in the future, so I can fudge the tech level a little, but I want to keep it within shouting distance of what's currently possible.

Thanks in advance!
Tags: ~science: biology: genetics

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