Biohackers - Genetic Engineering Home Hobbyists
Genetic engineering is the latest hobby for those tired of macrame and fly-tying. They use homemade equipment and online knowledge to create new and improved organic forms.
(Genetic engineering at home with Meredith Patterson)
Meredith Patterson, computer programmer, is trying to develop genetically altered yogurt bacteria that will glow green to signal the presence of melamine. You may recall the scandal regarding melamine and Chinese-made food. She learned about genetic engineering by reading scientific papers and getting tips from online forums.
In Cambridge, Mass., a group called DIYbio is setting up a community lab where the public could use chemicals and lab equipment, including a used freezer, scored for free off Craigslist, that drops to 80 degrees below zero, the temperature needed to keep many kinds of bacteria alive.
Co-founder Mackenzie Cowell, a 24-year-old who majored in biology in college, said amateurs will probably pursue serious work such as new vaccines and super-efficient biofuels, but they might also try, for example, to use squid genes to create tattoos that glow.
Cowell said such unfettered creativity could produce important discoveries.
"We should try to make science more sexy and more fun and more like a game," he said.
Many "biohackers" have no advanced degrees, no rigorous scientific training and no experience in maintaining safe biohazard containment. What could go wrong?
Not to be negative, but I do recall The White Plague, a 1982 novel by Frank Herbert. It's the only Frank Herbert novel I've only read once. In the story, a heartbroken molecular biologist works out of his home to create a virus to revenge himself on IRA terrorists who killed his wife and child in a random bombing. He engineers a plague that kills nearly every woman on Earth, as well as the females of many mammalian species.
From Yahoo News; thanks to an anonymous reader for finding this story and sharing it.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/26/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 14 )
Related News Stories -
Svalbard Seed Vault (aka Doomsday Vault) Gets Upgrades
'But they existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant and animal that existed on Old Earth.' - John Varley, 1977.
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?' - Niven, Pournelle, Flynn, 1995.
Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' -
Worms Eat Plastic Now
'Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased...' - Davis/Pedlar, 1971.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'
TMS Decreases Belief In God, Increases Belief In Immigrants
'... setting up the same currents, the same basic ideas, in them all.'
Loomo Mini Transporter Robot Companion You Ride On
'Slowly the [robot] horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'
Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'
AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'
Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'
Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'
IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'
HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'
Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.
Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.
Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'
Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories