Cannon led me down into the basement, which he and Sarver have converted into a laboratory. A long work space was covered with Arduino motherboards, soldering irons, and electrodes. Cannon had recently captured a garter snake, which eyed us from inside a plastic jar. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been telling people that I want to be a robot,” said Cannon. “These days, that doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.” The pair call themselves grinders — homebrew biohackers obsessed with the idea of human enhancement — who are looking for new ways to put machines into their bodies. They are joined by hundreds of aspiring biohackers who populate the movement’s online forums and a growing number, now several dozen, who have gotten the magnetic implants in real life.
Jack Andraka, 15, of Crownsville, Md. was awarded first place for his new method to detect pancreatic cancer at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of Society for Science & the Public. Based on diabetic test paper, Jack created a simple dip-stick sensor to test blood or urine to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. Jack received the Gordon E. Moore Award, of $75,000, named in honor of Intel co-founder and retired chairman and CEO.
We developed an EEG brainwave-controlled Pong game using an AVR microcontroller. It uses alpha wave modulation based on the spectral power to control the paddle position. If you relax, the paddle moves up, and if you concentrate, the paddle moves down.
“Molecular structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” was an article published by James D. Watson and Francis Crick in the scientific journal Nature in its 171st volume on pages 737–738 (dated April 25, 1953). It was the first publication which described Rosalind Franklin’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. This discovery had a major impact onbiology, particularly in the field of genetics.
This article is often termed a “pearl” of science because it is brief and contains the answer to a fundamental mystery about living organisms. This mystery was the question of how it was possible thatgenetic instructions were held inside organisms and how they were passed from generation to generation. The article presents a simple and elegant solution, which surprised many biologists at the time who believed that DNA transmission was going to be more difficult to detail and understand.
Our Little Devices group at MIT has logged thousands of miles to find and empower individuals in places that simply cannot afford this spiral. Instead of charity and aid, they resort to invention. We call them “MacGyver nurses and doctors”: men and women with everyday medical inventions in hospital wards in some the poorest places in the world.
Unlike our modern day American Edison’s, they shy away from showing off their inventions, embarrassed by the prototyping hack. They lack the stature to publish in meaningful journals, and they are left out of the conversation that dictates what medical equipment looks like. So we give them tools that include toy helicopters, Lego blocks, engineering couplings, and a variety of biosensors that add to up something called MEDIKits. These erector sets for medical technology aim to democratize the invention process in healthcare.
Backyard Brains offers a series of exciting and affordable entry‐level Brain Recording Kitsthat provide the ability for students of all ages to learn about neurons.
For the first time ever, school children and amateur scientists will have access to similar tools used by neuroscientists worldwide to study Electrophysiology: the electrical activity of neurons. By following a few simple steps, everyone can experience how the brain is able to communicate our senses, memories, hopes, and desires!
When researchers at the University of Washington created a new version of Raven, their robotic surgical assistant, they allowed the bots to work with open-source code and sent out Raven IIs to research labs around the country. Here’s what happened…
A new generation of biologists embraces the do-it-yourself ethic of computer programming. In a spare bedroom of his family’s house in County Cork, Ireland, Cathal Garvey is repeating the feats that led to the dawn of the biotechnology age. He’s growing bacteria. He’s adding DNA. He’s seeing what happens.
“To transform bacteria was once a huge deal, a new method,” he explains. “Today, you can do it with Epsom salt and an over-the-counter brand of laxatives.”
Garvey, who is 26, dropped out of a PhD program at a big cancer lab two years ago. Instead of giving up on science, however, he started doing it on his own, spending $4,000 to equip a laboratory in his parent’s house. As a member of the “do-it-yourself” biology movement, Garvey takes inspiration from the early days of hobby computers, when garage tinkerers spawned companies like Apple and the rest of the PC industry. The idea now is that anyone—not only big-budget academic labs or large companies—should be able to practice biotechnology.
Garvey was still working toward his PhD when he tried his first at-home experiment: isolating pale-blue bioluminescent bacteria from squid he purchased from a Cork fishmonger. It was a beginner’s experiment, but he says he immediately realized he had a choice to make: “Would I finish and get a few letters after my name, or seize the day and do something that needed to be done?”
His goal, he says, is to show that biology can be done in an open-source fashion, and on a shoestring budget. Instead of beakers, he uses recycled jars. A sterilizer is rigged from a pressure cooker and a hot plate. To feed his germs, he boils potatoes into a starchy mix. “In a university you are trained to think that this is all too expensive and difficult to do on your own,” he says.
Would you enjoy reprogramming lab bacteria with DNA from a jellyfish to make them glow green? How about hacking your own genetic data to find out what percentage of the Neanderthal genome you share? Or building a device that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen?
If so, maybe you should consider joining the DIY garage biology movement.
Educational institutions, governments, and big businesses dominate biological research. But plummeting technology costs let entrepreneurs and hobbyists design do-it-yourself tools for biological engineering at a fraction of previous prices.
Aspiring biologists can also get access to lab equipment outside university and government labs. Neighborhood labs are open to everyone and can bring together communities of like-minded citizen scientists. Like community tech shops (where one might share the use of large and expensive technology used in metal machining or wood work), these new science spaces are popping up more frequently.
If you’re curious about biology, you can join a newly formed organization called BioCurious in California’s Bay Area. BioCurious, started as an online community, recently opened a new biotech hackerspace and community lab where those interested can come together to learn and share ideas. Anyone can become a member.
A “worldwide genomics revolution” is upon us. The genomics industry marked a new milestone on Tuesday. As Forbes’ Matthew Herper reported in three separate posts and nearly 100 related Tweets, the two leading manufacturers of DNA sequencing instruments announced almost simultaneously at an investors’ conference that they would introduce new machines this year capable of sequencing an entire human genome in a single day. Life Technologies said its forthcoming Ion Proton machine, which processes DNA on a semiconductor chip, will do it for a cost of $1,000 per genome.
Genspace is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting education in molecular biology for both children and adults. We work inside and outside of traditional settings, providing a safe, supportive environment for study and mentoring of biotechnology.
In the summer of 2010, we built the first-ever community laboratory, a facility where we design workshops, train students and innovate new technologies. As a membership-based community lab, we offer New Yorkers the opportunity to work on their own unique projects in a safe, Biosafety Level 1 compliant facility.
Lepht Anonym wants everyone to know the door to transcending normal human capabilities is no farther away than your own kitchen. It’s just going to hurt like a sonofabitch. Anonym is a biohacker, a woman who has spent the last several years learning how to extend her own senses by putting tiny magnets and other electronic devices under her own skin, allowing her to feel electromagnetic fields, or — if her latest project works — even magnetic north.
Greetings citizen scientists, budding biohackers, and backyard explorers! We think you’ll find the Make: Science Room a fun and useful resource. We hope you’ll use it as your DIY science classroom, virtual laboratory, and a place to share your projects, hacks, and laboratory tips with other amateur scientists. Your Make: Science Room host is Robert Bruce Thompson, author of Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture. (Make: Books, 2008) and Illustrated Guide to Forensics Investigations: Uncover Evidence in Your Home, Lab, or Basement (not yet published). We’ll be drawing material from these titles first, but will soon branch out into biology, astrononmy, Earth sciences, and other disciplines. We’ll be adding lots of material on a regular basis, so check back often. For more info on the site, see Introducing the Make: Science Room.