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.