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The Garage Lab

A news story at Nature looks into "bio-hackers," people who are setting up biology labs in their garages, basements, or kitchens. "For now, most members of the do-it-yourself, or DIY, biology community are hobbyists, rigging up cheap equipment and tackling projects that … are creative proof of the hacker principle," Heidi Ledford reports, though Rob Carlson, a main figure in the field, says that it could lead to a change in the marketplace. Ledford adds that the FBI " has adopted what some call a 'neighbourhood watch' stance" toward the DIYbio community.

An accompanying editorial says that "science is a professional business," but that "citizen science can help stimulate public support for science, and can introduce fresh ideas from novel disciplines" and "it would be a shame if the only interested knock on the hobbyists' doors came from those in law enforcement."

At his blog, Derek Lowe adds his thoughts. "Scientific research is most definitely not a members-only club; anyone who thinks that they have an interesting idea should come on down," he writes. "So while I do worry about the occasional maniac misanthrope, I think I'm willing to take the chance."