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DIY Biologists To Open Source Research

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the meatware-hacking dept.

Biotech 147

destinyland writes "Falling costs and garage tinkering are creating a grass roots movement of amateur biologists whose research is more transparent than that of academia. They are building lab equipment using common household items and even synthesizing new organisms, and their transparency also allows the social pressure which creates more ethical research. DIY Bio.org fosters lab co-ops for large equipment and provokes important discussions. (Would it be ethical to release a homegrown symbiote that cures scurvy in hundreds of thousands of people?) This movement could someday lead to bottom-up remedies for disease, fuel-generating microbes, or even a social-networked disease-tracking epidemiology. 'In much the same way that homebrew computer science built the world we live in today, garage biology can affect the future we make for ourselves,' argues h+ magazine, which featured the article in their summer issue."

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DIY first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402937)

belongs to anonymous coward.

Re:DIY first post (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402967)

No, it appears to be someone named "Anonymous Cowardon."

Bottem up? (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402961)

Really, if they are THAT good at research, then why not at a university?

Re:Bottem up? (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402993)

oops... Should be "bottom-up", I should of previewd that... Point is, unless they are researching beer bio, then why are they not in a university or some funded research unless they don't know what they are doing, are crackpots, or just goofing around.

Re:Bottem up? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403029)

I should of previewd that...

You just keep digging yourself in deeper.

Re:Bottem up? (2, Insightful)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403051)

The concept isn't to doing ground-breaking research per-se, but to bring everyday biology to the masses. Rarely are people doing research in universities or with biotech firms interested in teaching and making available techniques cheaply to the masses and making it something that everyone can access. Also a severe leaning toward open source isn't common with 'big bio' research either.

Re:Bottem up? (1)

assert(0) (913801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404683)

Ah, I see... You mean like how cheap neutron flux detectors bring cold fusion to the masses?

Re:Bottem up? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403063)

Nothing wrong with doing some fun research on my own. For example my scientific interests lie in determining mutation rates of several local strains of HIV - and it's a lot of fun to run PCR on DNA samples of my fellow coworkers in a basement. It is also much easier to test things on human subjects, no need for FDA approvals ! Little do the little devils know that they are literally sacrificing their lives for the science !

Re:Bottem up? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403643)

I bet the pages of history are littered with physicians that tested their stuff on themselves first. Kinda "Back to the roots" movement?

Re:Bottem up? (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403805)

So are the graveyards of history.

Re:Bottem up? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403111)

Maybe they're folks who got Biology undergrads and ended up in medical or, GASP! software development because that's where the opportunities were.

There are only so many academic posts available. Also, many folks don't want to work in the "publish or perish" environment, the academic BS environment, or the simple fact that they just didn't want to be professional scientists.

To put it in perspective; how many amateur software developers do you know? You can ask the same thing about them. And we all know why one would rather be an amateur developer than a professional one!

Re:Bottem up? (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403263)

Are you insinuating that beer bio is not academic or fundable research?
Tell that to him [wikipedia.org] , or to this guy [wikipedia.org] , or to that one [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bottem up? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403975)

Point is, unless they are researching beer bio, then why are they not in a university

I'd have thought researching beer bio at University would be ideal - you are close to one of your largest markets! Having seen one research group study the physical properties of ice cream (apparently for an industrial producer of the stuff) why not research beer. Indeed there are already groups doing this [computerworld.com] .

Re:Bottem up? (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403121)

Really, if they are THAT good at research, then why not at a university?

Because you shouldn't have to.

Re:Bottem up? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404559)

The theory behind universities is that you can pool resources, share data, collaborate easily and largely ignore the limitations of the "real world". If you look up the history of Cambridge University, you'll see that that includes niceties like laws.

(For those not wanting to bother, Cambridge University was founded by Oxford University lecturers and students fleeing a lynch mob after the University tried to become the law. It's also said to have involved students being freer with the local lasses than local custom permitted.)

When garage developers out-University the Universities, one must ask if Universities are following their obligations towards learning and understanding. If they are not, honouring those obligations, maybe we should dispose of them and replace them with groups that can.

Re:Bottem up? (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406269)

When garage developers out-University the Universities, one must ask if Universities are following their obligations towards learning and understanding. If they are not, honouring those obligations, maybe we should dispose of them and replace them with groups that can.

If I choose to write an Open Source application using my $300 Dell laptop instead of attending a university with the latest and greatest hardware, has the university failed?

Honestly, I don't understand this notion that universities should be the repository of all knowledge and research in the age of the internet. I could have a bigger collection of books in two days (probably less, but factor in the seeders too) than the local university has.

Just because the university has the expensive tools, the cheap ones still work at home.

Tony Hawk skateboards through White House (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403299)

Well, Iran is headed for Civil War and N. Korea is going to fire a missile towards Hawaii on July 4. Russia has Europe by the balls in terms of oil and natural gas access, and our own Big Media is spitting out pro-Obama propaganda that makes Pravda blush. It's good the see that the "adults" in the White House are taking things seriously.

Re:Bottem up? (2, Insightful)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403365)

Historically, universities ignore "research" done by any person w/o a Ph.D. To the extent that this is a useful bias, your question is well posed and these guys will never emerge from the shadow of University research. To the extent that the usefulness of such a bias is becoming antiquated, this is how reform begins and how those that cling to dying models become irrelevant.

Re:Bottem up? (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403635)

universities ignore "research" done by any person w/o a Ph.D

Academic researchers tend to ignore "research" which is not published in peer-reviewed journals. I've never had a journal ask to see my degrees.

Re:Bottem up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28404399)

Pray tell then, how do you get a bunch of PhDs to review something out of their jerk-circle seriously?

I'm not a big fan of niggers... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403481)

Don't get me wrong, I love black people and think that they have contributed much to Western culture. It's niggers that I have a problem with. See below for an explanation of the distinction:

Black Man:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynton_Marsalis [wikipedia.org]

Niggers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKr0DeUuy-o [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pyW6w5B7Aw [youtube.com]
http://shamesanatomy.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/representing_black_males_as_thugs.278172509_std.JPG [shamesanatomy.com]

Re:Bottem up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406353)

Because they don't want to deal with promotion and tenure requirements such as getting the big grant, getting a certain number of papers published in high-impact journals, serving on committees (pointless or otherwise), and generally have to deal with cutthroat, big-ego, power-hungry jerks?

Just a guess.

Punk Biology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403069)

Takes me back to the early eighties when you could form your band before you learned how to play your instruments, only with punk biology you can learn to play on somebody else's liver.

Love it.

I think if the technology becomes cheap, garage biology will be something to deal with whether we like it or not.

Re:Punk Biology (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403141)

I think if the technology becomes cheap, garage biology will be something to deal with whether we like it or not.

We already have that. [google.com]

"social pressure .. more ethical research" (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403075)

OMG! Genetically modified organisms! KILL STABBITY STAB STAB DIE DIE DIE DIE! burnthewitch

really, um, exactly what sort of "social pressures" do they propose exist which will lead to more "ethical research"?

Re:"social pressure .. more ethical research" (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403113)

Really, after all we know how the open source software ended all hacking and virus building right?

Re:"social pressure .. more ethical research" (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403181)

I don't know that I've ever heard of an open source virus (could be wrong), if there really aren't that completely disproves your point. If all viruses were open source, they wouldn't exist.

However, open source software tends to be well maintained when it is widely used. You could equate the transperancy that allows for that with the ethics question in bio-engineering. Though, it will be dictated largely by popular pressure, which isn't always the best.

Re:Linky (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403249)

http://www.metasploit.com/ [metasploit.com]

Not generally malicious, but it is malware lego.

Re:"social pressure .. more ethical research" (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404435)

I remember reading about one that contained a GPL license. Don't remember if it contained the source code or not.

Interesting question: If you catch a GPL virus that is only being distributed as binary, are you guilty for copyright violation when it redistributes itself?

Re:"social pressure .. more ethical research" (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404789)

Interesting question: If you catch a GPL virus that is only being distributed as binary, are you guilty for copyright violation when it redistributes itself?

Ahhhh SNAP! It's time for the Kazza and bit-torrent MP3 virus!!!

Step 1. Take existing bot.net code and add utorrent with registry settings to start in hidden mode.
Step 2. Have it set to automatically download mp3's via rss or something.
Step 3. Distribute to the pleebs.
Step 4. Pleebs become seed servers.
Step 5. Watch RIAA sue all the pleebs.
Step 6. Watch everyone in the world get really pissed off.
Step 7. New defense, My system had that damn virus.
Step 8. No Profit for dem guys!

Step 9. Move to underground lair and work on those sharks with freaking lasers baby! BRILLIANT

Re:"social pressure .. more ethical research" (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404583)

Ummm, they're being pressured into biologically re-engineering Hollywood movies, and the corresponding reduction in brain torture will lead to an improvement in ethics?

No reason to be alarmed (4, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403101)

From TFA http://hplusmagazine.com/articles/bio/darning-genes-biology-homebody [hplusmagazine.com] :

h+: There has been a lot of discussion about the dangers of people doing this sort of research at home. Do you think this is over-exaggerated?

MP: I really do. The chances of someone accidentally creating a dangerous organism and the chances of it surviving in the environment outside a laboratory are vanishingly low.

Rudy Rucker has a great quote on that, "I have a mental image of germ-size MIT nerds putting on gangsta clothes and venturing into alleys to try some rough stuff. And then they meet up with the homies who've been keeping it real for a billion years or so." The bare facts of it are that there's nothing random about synthetic biology research. When we design a transgenic organism, we're deliberately adding one specific piece of new functionality, maybe a small pathway that leads to a new piece of functionality -- and the organism has to expend energy on producing the new proteins that those new genes code for. Because of this, the synthetic organism is necessarily less competitive than its wild-type relatives who are much better suited for the niche they already occupy in the environment.

So any accidental release is fated to die out within a few generations, because itâ(TM)s just not competitive enough.

That's right. When rabbits were introduced in Australia, they died off right away because they were less competitive than their wild-type relatives who were much better suited to the niche they already occupied.

Re:No reason to be alarmed (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403167)

False analogy. Rabbits were introduced to Australia from the outside, and they were the product of evolution (in an environment much harsher and more competitive than Australia's) not deliberate genetic engineering. If rabbits had been bred from some native Australian animal, and had then turned into the plague they are today, your point would make more sense.

Rabbits have been evolving for billions of years (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403171)

That's right. When rabbits were introduced in Australia, they died off right away because they were less competitive than their wild-type relatives who were much better suited to the niche they already occupied.

The correct comparison would be more wild rabbits vs the same species which have had a gene introduced which makes them glow in the dark, or somesuch.

 

Re:No reason to be alarmed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403173)

That would be a valid analogy if they had cut off a hind leg off each rabbit. And from all of their offspring too.

Re:No reason to be alarmed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403203)

Wow, you completely missed the point. She's not talking about just moving a species from one area to another. She's talking about creating a new species based off an existing one, and letting them compete with the base species. To make your analogy more accurate, it would be like making glow-in-the-dark kangaroos and letting them compete with normal kangaroos.

Rabbits *are* wild types. (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403373)

This is more like worrying about toy poodles going feral... in an area that's already got a coyote problem.

Re:Rabbits *are* wild types. (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403679)

I don't know about you, but the idea of a pack of feral toy poodles chasing me sounds pretty horrifying

Re:No reason to be alarmed (1)

drissel (123701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403621)

The history of humans releasing even natural organisms into new environments is not very encouraging.

Re:No reason to be alarmed (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404771)

Uh, are you aware that neither apple trees nor honeybees are indigenous to North America?

*BSD is Dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403105)

It is now official. Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle [198.62.75.1] could reanimate the corpse at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

DIY, meet DEA (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403127)

I wouldn't worry about "DIY biologists" cooking up some terrible superbug that wipes us all out. I would, however, worry about these biologists' personal safety. If they want to crunch data at home, no problem, but if they're trying to set up actual home labs, then there is a pretty good chance that at some point they will find their doors being broken down by armed men who are notorious for their lack of willingness to listen to reasonable explanations as to why there's all this glassware lying around.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (0, Flamebait)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403221)

Really? I didn't know chemistry was illegal. I know certain chemicals are highly regulated, but not any kind of chemistry itself.

I wonder how all those science fair projects and high school chemistry labs sneek by under the nose of these government watchdogs?

See sig. I've been getting good use out of it lately.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (2, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403397)

I wonder how all those science fair projects and high school chemistry labs sneek by under the nose of these government watchdogs?

Sometimes they don't [io9.com] .

Re:DIY, meet DEA (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403433)

Really? I didn't know chemistry was illegal. I know certain chemicals are highly regulated, but not any kind of chemistry itself.

I wonder how all those science fair projects and high school chemistry labs sneek by under the nose of these government watchdogs?

See sig. I've been getting good use out of it lately.
--
"So, in other words, you're completely fucking wrong, you idiot retard. God bless." - ShakaUVM

High school chemistry labs: the lab equipment is kept, you know, in the high school, not in the students' homes. And in fact high school chemistry has been getting steadily watered down for years. If you're anywhere around my age (40) or older, you may remember in high school working with some fairly dangerous chemicals, staying in the lab after class to finish up an experiment, etc. That doesn't happen any more, as my kid can tell you. High-schoolers are treated like third-graders in chemistry class. Granted, most of this is due to the Think Of The Chiiildren crowd rather than the drug warriors, but the mentality is really much the same.

Science fair projects: again, you may be remembering chemistry sets you could get as a kid that made it possible to do some pretty cool stuff. Try getting comparable sets these days. You can't. Oh, they still sell things called "chemistry sets," but both the chemicals and the equipment are carefully designed to be as useless as possible.

And yes, damn it, if you buy more than a minimal amount of utterly trivial lab equipment for personal use, there is a very good chance that the DEA (or its equivalent in your home country, if you're outside the US) will break down your door and use the presence of the equipment by itself (without having to find any actual drugs or drug precursors) as an excuse to arrest you, seize your property, and make your life hell for years to come.

So in other words ... well, really, your .sig says it all. I suggest you sit down, read it carefully several times, burn the words into your brain, and consider carefully how it might apply to you the next time you're planning to make such an aggressively ignorant post.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403689)

Printable bio chips are coming. This is just a beginning. A significant lab don't have to be the size of a living room. Once the chip and the corresponding programming techniques are ready, the "DIY biologists" can exchange bio chip programmes in the same way that computer programs are exchanged.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403795)

While Britain's police are generally paranoid, I've never had any problems with watered-down chemistry. I didn't take chemistry after age 16 (optional), but took physics instead, and we have no problem getting our hands on radioactive materials if we ask nicely, even if it's for out-of-class work (though it'd need to take place in the classroom). I guess I'm fortunate to go to a pretty old school that's been doing chemistry for donkey's years, and hence has fought off any attempt to water down its resources.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (3, Insightful)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403863)

I think your reaction is a bit too knee-jerk. I have a great interest in all scientific fields, and as a result I own a LOT of scientific equipment. Microscopes, glassware, obscure-looking dyes and chems, breadboards and little electronic components, miles of wire, books explaining incidentally how to do 'bad' things, powerful lasers and magnets, etc. etc. Welding and brazing equipment, gasoline, propane, MAPP, mercury and lead, gunpowder and primers, flares- these are among some of the things I have on my property. And I do have some leftovers from my childhood chemistry set which might not let you mix up a batch of meth or HDX but you can do some interesting things (and more importantly, LEARN things). The FBI has not shown up, and neither has the DEA. Homeland security has been quiet about it. The police department hasn't visited.

I own many guns, a lot of ammo, some sharp knives, and some radioactive materials. You can buy your own radioactive materials, legally, from United Nuclear. Google them. They also provide many of the interesting chems that you might remember from your childhood. I also built (but operate legally, as a test set) an fm osc/amp set. The BATF, the NRC, and the FCC have all failed to show up.

Without leaving my house I could make any number of destructive devices, but I wouldn't do that because I'm an adult. I use my stuff to learn by experimenting. Again, the main idea is that the education is more important than the fireworks. I understand that keeping a 10-year-old's attention can be difficult, hence the spectacular (but educationally vapid) experiments for kids that age. But if a teenager can't understand or be impressed by demonstrations and explanations of buffered solutions, the speed of light, or cell mitosis... I have to say that maybe science just isn't for them.

fwiw, I just ordered 20 pounds of tannerite explosive *legally* and it was on sale. My point with all of this is that although science may be hard to find in our classrooms, it is NOT gone. You have to go looking for it but it is still legal and still for sale and if you want your kid to share your high school chem experiences, you can do it at home- and you won't find it at toys-r-us.

-b

Re:DIY, meet DEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28404165)

You have no idea what would happen to you if someone tipped the cops off about a "Bomb factory" in your home. They would bust down the door and relate everything they see to making bombs.

Your life would be ruined, and this is just with the stuff that you have legally sitting around right now.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404303)

Except that I already have secret clearance in the military, extensive background checks, perfect criminal and driving records, and several dozen character witnesses that would attest to the fact that I have never talked about committing a crime or anything else related to the subversion of the gov't. I am, in short, untouchable, and any trial would be thrown out. There also remains the fact that, like I said, I own nothing that could be made into a high-order explosive. My neighbor, on the other hand, with his drums of gasoline and used motor oil, fertilizer and plumbing scrap, looks like a textbook bomber.

The gov't is not out to get me, or you. The gov't couldn't care less about what I do as long as I don't hurt anyone and continue to pay taxes. In the Real World, the worst that could happen is that I mixed up some tannerite and left it in the garage overnight, since that would be considered improper storage of a 1.4 class explosive and that would result in a citation. At the worst.

Maybe mistakes do happen sometimes... But I think that behind the horrifying slashdot summaries there is an entire story that we don't get to hear that would explain the feds' actions. In fact, I know that's the case because half the political articles on /. turn out to be completely false.

-b

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404535)

Ah, so then your post can be summed up as "I'm alright, Jack, ..."

I'm sure that there are many people in privileged positions that will never experience problems from their local police, even though if they appeared less powerful they would. In some cases they *should* experience problems (e.g., drunk driving), and in others NOBODY should be hassled. But because THEY aren't hassled, they don't see a problem.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (2, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404895)

Well, I dare you then. Post your address, and let's see what happens ;)

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

yuri82 (236251) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406755)

"if a teenager can't understand or be impressed by demonstrations and explanations of buffered solutions, the speed of light, or cell mitosis... I have to say that maybe science just isn't for them."

On this phrase you put the blame of communication on the receiving end. Put all of the blame on the speaking end and you will solve all of your communication problems.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404379)

It's too bad meth addicts have fucked up home science for all of us.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403439)

Really? I didn't know chemistry was illegal.

He didn't say it was illegal. He just said that if one of these home biologists or home chemists attracts attention to himself, he might be in for some major inconveniences - e.g., someone searching his house with a warrant granted because of "suspicious substances." Also, you can bet with all the federal, state, and local laws on the books about reporting and storing chemicals, if someone looks hard enough, they can probably find something to complain about in any amateur scientist's basement.

I wonder how all those science fair projects and high school chemistry labs sneek by under the nose of these government watchdogs?

Easy. Because the officious, self-important government types expect to see chemicals and glassware in that context.

Just because something isn't illegal doesn't mean that some government official can't make your life miserable because of it. It's not illegal to carry around large amounts of cash currency, but many courts will presume that behavior to be related to drug activity.

Reminds me of a quote I read on /. a while back... "Officer, there are just so many wires in his house, he MUST be doing something illegal!"

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403241)

I hope that's not the case. I'm living in the house (soon) with one of the guys running the Boston group :) But the workshop in the basement is mainly just for woodworking and electronics- at least so far.

Re:DIY, meet DEA (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403245)

at some point they will find their doors being broken down by armed men who are notorious for their lack of willingness to listen to reasonable explanations as to why there's all this glassware lying around.

Well, I would hope that cooking meth would not be the top illegal experiments. It's been a long time since true pure LSD unadulterated with strychnine and other "fillers" was widely available. A little top drawer Window Pane would be nice.

Read this yesterday (1)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403131)

I read this yesterday. The 5 minute DNA extraction guide mentioned is awesome. It's incredibly simple. I think I might give it a try sometime this week.
http://www.instructables.com/id/5_minute_DNA_Extraction_in_a_Shot_Glass/

Hopefully we're on the cusp of big breakthroughs in biology that will eventually (and soon) give us the science to stay healthy for much longer than we have been able to in the past.

Re:Read this yesterday (3, Informative)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403925)

I've done this very successfully using liver instead of spit. You get much more dna that way, since you're using chunks of cellular matter instead of just a few stray epithelial cells.

A few words of advice- Use everclear instead of rum. Get it as cold as possible; I used a salt/ice bath. The colder the better. Instead of pouring the alcohol into the glass, decant it using a glass stirring rod or something similar ( http://www.csudh.edu/oliver/demos/gravsulf/pour-r2.jpg [csudh.edu] ). Do this as slowly as possible. Pre-chill your stir rod to keep the alcohol cold. If you use cellular matter like liver or meat, grind it with a mortar and pestle. A spoon and a bowl will work in a pinch.

It is a very neat experiment to do with kids around, since you can see the results and there's nothing too toxic involved.

-b

Re:Read this yesterday (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404589)

Drinking everclear also results in DNA extraction from your liver, apparently.

Bad things only happen by accident... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403191)

Of course organisms wouldn't be created with malicious intent. Just like computer viruses are just mistakes, right?

Oh well, I'm sure the first plague created by these lonesome nerds will be a highly contagious but harmless disease that makes chicks really horny...

Re:Why stop there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403285)

You could throw in some extra metabolism and weight loss too

Should we really increase the world population? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403195)

Cure disease
Provide clean water
Provide better food

All increase the world population.
 

Yes (2, Insightful)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403223)

You don't like what 6.5 billion people are doing to the world now? Wait and see how badly we'd treat it if we were all starving to death.

Re:Should we really increase the world population? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403265)

The global population growth rate isn't particularly subject to abstract conversations.

I guess focusing on economic security over those things might be worthwhile though, as that seems to actually decrease the rate of reproduction.

Re:Should we really increase the world population? (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403345)

Actually, when people have lower infant mortality and longer lifespans, they tend to have fewer children. When death rates are high, there seems to be some desire to protect the existence of the next generation by having lots of children. Lookup a map of infant mortality and birthrates. Places like Africa, where mortality is high, is where the birthrates are also high.

All of this leads to the counter-intuitive conclusion: decreasing death rates leads to lower population growth.

Re:Should we really increase the world population? (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403369)

If less people die, parents don't have to give birth to 10 children so some survive and provide health care for them when they are old.
More health security correlates with a lower birth-rate.

Re:Should we really increase the world population? (2, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403501)

And yet, when you're sick, you take medicine. When you're hungry, you get food. When you're thirsty, you have clean water. That's all preventing a decrease in the population. So, claim we should keep the population down. Prove it. Walk the walk, or you're being hypocritical.
 
Didn't really think this one through too well, did you?

Re:Should we really increase the world population? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403933)

suddenly imposing economic sanctions on families with >1 child doesn't seam so harsh (in china anyway), it should also be noted that population growth is much less of an issue inn developed countries and curing diseases would help lots of developing countries out.

Holy CRAP (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403219)

Am I the only one having visions of Frank Herbert's the White Plague?
  There is nothing wrong with researching at home, but how does one ensure the integrity of a bio filter system at home? The concept of someone 'releasing' a 'cure' for ANYTHING from their basement no matter how well intended simply scares the feces out of me. Can you seriously see a point at which somthing would NOT need WIDE peer review and independent recreation before be 'released into the wild' ?
  As for why someone would not be at a college/univiersity or government level, I can think of 2 good reasons - bureaucracy and politics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Plague [wikipedia.org]

Re:Holy CRAP (2, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403297)

How does one ensure the integrity of a bio filter system at a random University?

Here's a hint: You don't. There aren't heavy regulations on this stuff until it gets to the point of mass productionf or public consumption. There are standard practices for safety and such, but these aren't government regulated and can very to a degree among institutions and among researchers.

There are no regulations regarding home chemistry aside from the control of some classes of chemicals and some types of equipment. There are a hell of a lot of regulations regarding releasing medical products for mass consumption. Just putting a "cure" for anything out on the market without going through federal processes is a good way to incur heavy fines have your equipment siezed, probably even some jail time.

That's where the check is, and that's where it needs to stay. Nothing needs to be done with DIY bio-engineered product X until it is ready for mass consumption. At that point, one could likely sell their idea to a major corp, or perhaps get donations to support it, and get it pushed through the propper FDA vetting and safety processes.

Re:Holy CRAP (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404675)

Three. You forgot economics.

Science is already open source (5, Interesting)

Vesvvi (1501135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403225)

It's true that it's possible to accomplish a great deal of biology/biochemistry research using just basic tools: I would say that the single greatest analytical tool in biochemistry is the polyacrylamide gel [wikipedia.org] , which can be produced and used with no real specialized training or tools.

However, we're moving away from such "crude" techniques towards more sophisticated analytical tools, since in many ways biochemistry is now technology-limited. Single-molecule work, such as that pioneered by Carlos Bustamante [berkeley.edu] provide insights that would never be possible with classical methods, and on the other end of the spectrum, we're now working on characterizing the entire network [wikipedia.org] of small metabolite molecules simultaneously and quantitatively [scripps.edu] . This kind of work just isn't easily carried out by amateur enthusiasts.

That said, there is certainly quite a bit of research that DIY biologists would be capable of performing, especially considering that they could have access to the same kind of resources that professionals do. For example, after amplifying a gene, no researcher will sequence it themselves: it's shipped of to a specialized lab that will do it, for a fee. That sequencing step requires equipment and expertise that's at a higher level than even the pros don't have.

But regardless of theoretical ability, the professionals retain the advantage that it is their job to work on these projects. The time they can dedicate to their work will be far greater than someone who does it as a hobby.

Back to the subject of "openness", the professional scientific world isn't nearly as closed-off as the article would have you believe. It is true that there is a persistent fear of being "scooped", but the standards are changing for staking your claim on a particular piece of research.

It used to be that a full manuscript in a scientific journal was the only thing sufficient to get credit for something. Now, people are gradually embracing online resources are a valid way to communicate, and by extension, to prove that they were the source of any particular bit of publicized material. Even non-finalized material is now more common to make public: Nature has a pre-publication [nature.com] online source for publishing findings, and there are journals devoted entirely to negative results, which was previously unheard-of.

The walls are coming down, it's just a question of finalizing the transition, and winning over the old guard.

Disclosure: I am a professional research scientist, one of the younger ones. I have a substantial hardware/software project in the works, which will likely be simultaneously published via classic journal, online website, and software via SourceForge.

Re:Science is already open source (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403309)

Fuck you, you fucking elitst asshole.

Eat it raw.

Not biochemists (4, Interesting)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403351)

I think you may be drawing too direct a comparison. It used to be that cloning a gene responsibly for a known phenotype was enough for a significant publication. (That was before my time). Now to get prestige in academia you need to map out the surrounding regulatory networks or at least do a lot more work to characterize WHY gene X is creating phenotype Y. I assume the level of complexity required to publish has expanded similarly in biochemistry

I see the benefits of this DIY work as twofold. First, a huge fraction of genes (in my field, plant biology) are still annotated only as unknown function. Figuring out those functions may not be the path to a career of academic fame and fortune, but I'd really appreciate any group of people who start making a dent in them. But I doubt they'll do a lot of this, they sound a lot more like synthetic biologists. So secondly, in the field of synthetic biology right now a lot of the work being done is very conservative. For example reconstituting a photosystem from an algae in another microbe. If that works it'll be really cool, and tell us a lot about the genetic regulation involved in the process, but it's not as risky as a lot of things these garage biologists are doing. Not risky in a threat-to-human-life-as-we-know-it way obviously, but risky in a this-probably-won't-work way. You try telling a grad student "here's your thesis project, there's a 90% chance it won't work and after four years in the lab you'll have nothing to show for it, you won't publish, you won't graduate, but good luck with that."

People in garages can afford to fail, and that means they'll potential develop a few useful things that would have been easy to do in a professional lab, but appeared so improbable no one would want to gamble on them.

Re:Not biochemists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403483)

But it would seem that the more applied uses of the knowledge that is available from the university basic research would be more what DIY work would work toward. While this guy seems a bit off on his concepts of evolution, the rest of the article brings up good points: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=32264

The more applied research seems to be what the DIY garage tinkerers would be most effective at, using what is known from other more difficult, expensive research.

Re:Science is already open source (2, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403459)

I am a professional research scientist, one of the younger ones.

I can tell you are one of the younger ones.

For example, after amplifying a gene, no researcher will sequence it themselves: it's shipped of to a specialized lab that will do it, for a fee. That sequencing step requires equipment and expertise that's at a higher level than even the pros don't have.

This is complete BS. You simply were never taught the protocols to do it the old fashioned way. I was sequencing my own amplified genes a couple decades ago with pretty standard lab equipment.

Disclosure: I am a professional research scientist. Not one of the younger ones.

Re:Science is already open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28405689)

I'm well aware of how to do sequencing manually, with gels. The protocol is part of the standard curriculum for undergraduates, both theoretically (via textbooks) and practically in labs.

Decades ago it would have been standard (and appropriate) to perform your own sequencing. That is no longer the case. For a specialist who does nothing but assemble genomes, it might make sense to perform your own work, but it will be with the same equipment (perhaps at a different quality or scale) that the contract sequencing labs use.

Today, if sequencing isn't the focus of your research, you outsource it, period.

Re:Science is already open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406127)

But there's no point in doing your own sequencing now. It's faster, cheaper and more reproducible to send it to a company, or sequencing lab in-house. And you have to admit that they use equipment which is a fair step up from the decades old stuff you were using (plus protocols and reagents etc. move on)

(I am also a professional research scientist. A slightly younger one (but I remember doing PCR by moving tubes between a couple of set point heating blocks)).

Re:Science is already open source (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406499)

Oh, I didn't say it wasn't more time-efficient/cost-effective to ship it out if your lab doesn't routinely do a lot of it. I said saying that pro's don't have the equipment or know-how to do it was BS. Which it is.

Example: I'm single. I have a salad maybe once a week. I could go buy a nice fresh head of lettuce, and carrots, and olives and tomato's, and an assortment of deli meat to add to it, etc, etc. But much of that stuff will probably spoil before I use it again. And chopping up a lot of different ingredients will take me some time. It's much much faster and more efficient for me to make a salad at a salad bar, or get a salad at McDonlds, etc, so that's what I almost always do. Saying I don't have the equipment and expertise to make a salad is quite stupid and wrong however. That was my point about the original posters statements.

Varley (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403287)

Knowing that was sci-fi and everything, still amazed me how people (even childs) in his future vision were able to "self repair" themselves, at the point that medics were treated like car repairmen.

This DIY Bio looks like going in that direction.

This could be bad (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403303)

I foresee a whole army of self-deluded crackpots peddling "cures" that they discovered in their basements. No doubt, the establishment will ignore them and their ingenious remedies which are sure to shake-up the entire medical industry. Or, at least, that's how they will interpret things.

> "This movement could someday lead to bottom-up remedies for disease"
Let's hope they aren't doing any actual testing on humans or animals.

Part of Life (1)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403403)

Every field has its crackpots. Genetic already has some of our own, check out dnaperfection.com sometime if you don't believe me.

People who want to survive in the world have to be able to distinguish reality from a crazy persons fantasy. If you can't you'll end up going to homeopathic healers, or installing magnets that make the water in your irrigation system "more evenly polarized," or investing billions of dollars in mortgage backed securities.

The signal-to-noise ratio is already pretty bad, and this isn't going to appreciable worsen the ratio.

why the fuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403311)

why is it that anyone who does anything that the public can see gets tagged open source around here? do you fucking idiots even know what the word source means? have you fuckers ever heard of public domain?

We can blame Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406007)

http://www.freeimagehosting.net/uploads/5233c6cac0.jpg [freeimagehosting.net]

They've confused everything because when you live in a backwards society you have to get freedom by working backwards in terms of regulations spurned in character Case sensitivty; as-in Free is not free, GPL is not public, and Opensource is open as long as you read between the lions.

Allow me a little song (1)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403427)

Don't know much about history Don't know much of biology But I do know I'll infect you With a new strain Of homebrewed flu What a wonderful world This will be

The myth of the machine (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403583)

'In much the same way that homebrew computer science built the world we live in today, garage biology can affect the future we make for ourselves

The homebrew era of the PC lasted a little more than two years.

By 1977 Apple and Microsoft are in place -
and the PC is a clearly defined and easily recognizable commercial product no later than the mid-eighties.

I don't know where the notion of a homebrewed computer science comes from. The clearly dominant players here are the military, the big university and corporate research giants like Bell Labs and IBM.

ethical questions?? how about potential mayhem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403641)

Quite cute the whole thing, interesting and not unexpected in the long run.
But then,
this guy is talking about generating modified bacteria producing "vitamin c" and releasing them into the guts of people. And ethical discussions don't start to cover the problems there!

For starters,

1) Some newer studies indicate that high intake of vitamin C have/could have a negative effect on health in the long run (maybe kills you afer 20-30 years, just speculation, but what do we know, that's statistics and really hard to check). So, releasing a bug into the wild (meaning us humans) that is constantly producing vitamin C could be a little, hmmm, unhealthy when your old and your retirement is up. That's a real-life-experiment :-)

2) Introducing genes is fun (I agree), but did you get rid of all the antibiotic-resistence markers (yep, that's how it normally works). Who checks that? Your bugs will meet the bad guys in the gut (no way around) and then they have a little sharing-your-mine-DNA-party!

3) Considering the loads of experiments and clinical trials you have to do before you let people eat modified bacteria (and they make sense, what do we know about what it will do in us humans, I mean we never developed a vitamin C production ourselves, maybe there is a reason for that) any hobby-biologist needs quite a lot of stuff and money! Consider selling your new Ferrarri, you will need that money for the tests and the first clinical trial (a handful of people) alone. The 2nd+3rd clinical trials, maybe best to sell your mansion :-(

In my opinion playing biologist at home is fun, on certain levels. But there are good reasons for lab-safety protocols and releasing stuff into the wild. And that's expensive. And releasing stuff into the human population is a gamble with potential dangerous results.

Oh, and the idea that biological science is not open, is laughable. Yes all scientists do it up to publication. And you do that as fast as possible. Then its practically open source (except the industry). Any supermarket manager hides his internal data better :-)

Have fun, let's play:-)

Academia (3, Insightful)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403659)

So just from reading the summary I want to say that I have grown somewhat tired of the attitude towards academia on here. It is not a place of suppressed ideas, incompetent people, publish or perish, and faked results to get more funding. While publish or perish can be very true at the most elite universities, it ain't true everywhere. There are plenty of profs doing good research at upper tier liberal arts schools, teaching only a bit more than they would at UC San whereever. Hell, you can even go to a decent sized research school and not feel like you are in hell. As an UNDERGRAD I worked 60-80 hours a week on classes, grad school applications/related stuff (like the GREs) and working in a lab. It sucked, but I worked longer hours than the majority of professors. I think anyone that earned a decent Ph.D. to get tenure shouldn't complain when they are working less than their students.

Lack of transparency? The biomedical research industry is far worse on this issue. "Getting scooped" (idea stealing) is only a problem when you are working on a project. Once it is done and sent off for publication or discussed at a conference (or brown bag seminar in your own department) everything is way more open than it would ever be in the corporate world.

Can't get access to an article? Try scholar.google.com. Many journals allow researchers to post PDFs on their personal webpages, and such documents come up in this search. I went to a liberal arts college with a shit library, and google scholar was how I got work done (That and a zippy interlibrary loan service). No one actually pays $30 to read some article, and if you think that is how the system works then you have been completely duped.

Re:Academia (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403943)

Bravo, i'm glad someone out there is defending academics! Sure, it has lots of problems, and it isn't the only source of knowlege out there. But remember that most of the people doing research in the field spent the better part of their lives studying the living hell out of it while being repeatedly tested, scrutinized, and reviewed on the information. They *might* know a little more about the subject that an ABT tinkerer...

Re:Academia (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404189)

Yep. To add to what I originally said, you will often hear anecdotes on here saying "The guy in my office who dropped out of kindergarten is a better coder than the caltech phd we just hired!" - simply put, if credentials were useless they would not exist. (In reality, cases like these likely occur because the dropout is an expert in some specific language when the Ph.D. might be more well rounded or an expert in something else entirely).

To be honest, I think a lot of it stems from the fact that young students may have an understanding of some new field or niche that their elders do not, or just be better read on an obscure topic that interests them. For instance, my area of work (computational neuroscience) was virtually unknown amongst the faculty in both psychology and computer science at my college, but that does not mean that they are idiots or that I am in some way better than they are.

Re:Academia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28405287)

Many journals allow researchers to post PDFs on their personal webpages, and such documents come up in this search.

And most researchers (at least in computer science) just publish their papers on their web pages regardless of whether journals allow it or not. The day a journal publisher comes after someone for posting an article on their web page will mark the beginning of the end for commercial academic journal publishers.

Re:Academia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406025)

I did pay $30 to read "some article", fortunately at the time I did it I was no longer working in the academia ...

scholar.google.com has a huge noise/signal ratio and mixes titles from books.google.com in the search results ... better just to sneak in a well funded library and use their subscription to Proquest (or whatever article database you prefer).

"zippy interlibrary loan service" ... that service can be found only at the mythical "good nearby library", or at a library that can afford the expenses.

"It is not a place of suppressed ideas, incompetent people, publish or perish, and faked results to get more funding." ... like the animal "cloning" scam, for example ?

That being said, I expect the DIY labs will perform the same as those in the universities. Very few will do useful, reproducible work, and most will just publish "instructables" on how to grow algae in plastic bottles (or replace some of the genetic material in an ova claim it's "cloning") or rehash papers published in better journals.

Spit kiddies! (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403841)

Anyone can do it.
Spit into a beaker, find some keen organisms, move some DNA around (kits available online), and then flush it down the sink.
Or maybe insert some plasmids you got from your cat.

If it turns out interesting you can mail it to your congress critter!

Home brew, meets genomics (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403869)

Probably the easiest and first, and maybe even the most useful DIY biologist in the yeasts. Creating the best yeast capable of breaking down as must plant matter into alcohol, for biofuels, is a problem which if solved would lead to a multimillion dollar, eco-friendly power source. It not an easy problem, one microbiologist spent 15 years, just adding a gene for breaking down a single wood sugar, xylose. Hopefully it will be easier with modern equipment and genetic knowledge, building a microbe which can digest all the varied sugars in plant pulp would be a big win.

----

Bioethanol [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Startling lack of respect for unanticpated dangers (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403883)

While I understand the DIY biologists argument about how wild varieties are inherently more robust than organisms created via engineering, I find it incredibly naive to assume that since something is generally true that it will always be true. With the dangers so potentially devastating, even an extremely low probably event must be accounted for. Advocating less regulation than ham radio is the height of stupidity.

While it is true that encoding for new introduced proteins is probably going to be energy wasteful and therefore put the organism at a selective disadvantage, there is always some remote chance the new process could confer some sort of unintended selective advantage, allowing it to flourish. Adding to this danger is that many microorganisms swap genetic code via non-sexual methods as well, allowing for even more chance of unintended conference of advantage. All this ignores the possibility of malicious intent as well, and while it would be rare it isn't impossible.
This kind of danger needs to be approached much like how risk assessment is done on nuclear facilities. Biology is as or more powerful a tool than nuclear science is, and needs to be approached with similar standards of safety. I don't want to sound like jurassic park here, but having due respect for the power of nature should be pre-requisite to tinkering with it.

*Car analogy* This is like giving a bunch of 20 somethings with a 300hp imports formula one racecars and then having them race around the city. Leave it to the racers on the racetracks please.

Re:Startling lack of respect for unanticpated dang (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404221)

there is always some remote chance the new process could confer some sort of unintended selective advantage, allowing it to flourish. Adding to this danger is that many microorganisms swap genetic code via non-sexual methods as well, allowing for even more chance of unintended conference of advantage. All this ignores the possibility of malicious intent as well, and while it would be rare it isn't impossible.

Oh stop it.

You might as well store all of your feces and the spit after you brush your teeth instead of flushing them out into the world. They're both chock full of bits of your DNA and bacteria and virus happily attempting to recombine into the next Plague using all sorts of neat biochemical tricks (do the math). It just doesn't happen. If you're that worried about things you'd best not leave the basement - it's a big, bad world out there.

Not so Punny (1)

thoughtlover (83833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403961)

It's more like, "What could possibly _grow_ wrong..." DIY Biology/Chemistry isn't like it was when I was a kid, that's for sure. And, it is kinda scary to think about someone making a mistake, or even cognitively do on purpose.

Re:Not so Punny (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404267)

So you're afraid of some guy in his basement working with biologicals - wondering if the next Andromeda strain isn't just around the corner. Consider this and feel safer: The same technology and supplies has been available to nasty persons who really do want to cause harm (and no, I don't mean Steve Ballmer) for many a year. See any horrid human kind killing plagues floating around? It's not easy to create nasty things when you're trying to. Doing it accidentally really is pushing the boundary of the Unlikely.

It's summer time. Take the tin foil off! You need the vitamin D [nih.gov] .

do-it-yourself (2, Insightful)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404605)

When it comes to research, I hate that phrase: do-it-yourself. Who else is going to think your thoughts for you?

Frankly, just like with astronomy, if you can do the research, you're part of the club. Period. I don't think there needs to be any distinction between DIY hobbyist science, academic research and industrial science. There's good research and there's not-so-good research. If you can purify a protein in your garage that no one else has been able to, then the NIH should be happy to post your procedure and contact information somewhere.

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