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Biotech Open Source Science

Open Source Software Meets Do-It-Yourself Biology 113

destinyland writes "This article profiles a growing movement — DIY biology — that's made possible in part by open source tools. Using programs like BioPerl and BioPython, DIY biologists write their own code (computer and genetic), designing their own biological systems and altering the genome. A protein-folding simulator, Folding@home, is now the most powerful distributed computing cluster in the world, and as the movement evolves, cooperatives are also springing up where hobbyists pool resources and create 'hacker spaces' to reduce costs and share knowledge. 'As the shift to open source software continues, computational biology will become even more accessible, and even more powerful,' this article argues — while intellectual property and other bureaucracies continue to hobble traditional forms of research."
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Open Source Software Meets Do-It-Yourself Biology

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  • by Singularity42 ( 1658297 ) * on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @01:51PM (#30907114)

    A poll recently indicated 95%+ coders here. Something about computer science makes comments skew strangely. Look at an article on encryption, and you'll get quite a few accurate, thoughtful comments. Look at one on CPUs, or applied physics, and you got a lot of jokes and misunderstandings. Is there something peculiar about the field of computer science that makes a worldview tilted so much?

  • Stop it! (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @01:58PM (#30907234)

    "As the shift to open source software continues..."

    Stop the shit, I'm going blind from it, stop it!

    Oh... shiFt... Nevermind, continue, continue, good job...

  • Re:Depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @02:24PM (#30907562)

    Sure some of the more exotic equipment will, probably, still be out of the hands of DIYers. However, one of the things that this movement is known for is designing home-made versions of some of the expensive lab-grade equipment (such as 30k+ rpm centerfuges from Dremels; digital optical microscopes from an optical scope and a webcam; home built electron microscopes; etc.) which, actually, work. Pair that with their willingness to publish their, individual, projects as step-by-step instructions and share all their info as a community and I think it's completely possible that their communal capabilities will ramp up, relatively, quickly. A similar effect can be seen in the, long existing, amateur astronomy community and the DIY CNC community.

  • Re:Any progress? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Explodicle ( 818405 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @03:25PM (#30908560) Homepage

    I'm a mechanical engineer who uses finite element analysis every day. These days are numbered. Every year something new comes out that makes it even easier and more idiot-proof, heading towards the point where really anyone COULD do it. Red = "breaks here". "Would you like to use the Analysis Assistant?"

    The distinction between the expert and the automated amateur is diminishing. Remember when you needed to know HTML to have a web page? It's only now getting started with DIY biology, but just wait... the progress since last time might not be obvious, but it's happening.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling