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Do the Tools Make the Lab?

A story in the New Scientist reports on the recent io9 mad scientist competition, which is part of a DIY biology movement that aims to help people without top-notch equipment and years of training to run experiments, especially in the area of synthetic biology. Using cheap lab tools bought on eBay or homebrew pieces made out of items lying around the house, DIY biologists are doing everything from engineering microbes that perform logic operations to creating fluorescent yogurt. "Biology is becoming less of a science and more of a technology," says Mackenzie Cowell, co-founder of the group DIYbio, which now has 20 members. "There will be more opportunity for people who didn't spend up to seven years getting a PhD in the field."

Over at In the Pipeline, Derek Lowe wonders how the lack of fancy tools affects a researcher's mindset. Thinking of workarounds can be a good way to innovate, but it could also simply hamper the scientific process. "If you know, in the back of your mind and in your heart, that there's no way to do certain experiments, then you won't even think about them," he writes.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.