background preloader


Biohacking is the practice of engaging biology with the hacker ethic.[1] Biohacking encompasses a wide spectrum of practices and movements ranging from Grinders who design and install DIY body-enhancements such as magnetic implants to DIY biologists who conduct at-home gene sequencing.[2][3][4][5] Biohacking emerged in a growing trend of non-institutional science and technology development.[1][6][7] Many biohacking activists, or biohackers, identify with the biopunk movement as well as transhumanism and techno-progressivism.[2][8][9] "Biohacking" can also refer to managing one's own biology using a combination of medical, nutritional and electronic techniques. This may include the use of nootropics and/or cybernetic devices for recording biometric data.[5][10] Ideology[edit] Contemporary biohacking movements[edit] One of the larger biohacking movements is the DIY biology movement. Notable persons[edit] Meredith L. Groups and organizations[edit] Current projects[edit] See also[edit] Related:  BioHacker

Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life has covered startup culture, the maker scene, and the marijuana industry as a reporter in the San Francisco bureau of The Associated Press. His first book, , was published this week by Current. I asked him to contribute a few pieces about the biotech underground to run on Boing Boing. Here's the first one. HACK/OPEN: DNA, DIY and the right to do The first time I met Meredith Patterson, she lived in a weird old apartment building plunked down in Pacific Heights, just below where the street rose to an epic view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate.

The Rise of Biohackers Innovation is the Holy Grail for enterprises. Yet the big innovative leaps tend to crouch in tiny garages and on kitchen tables at the hands of do-it-yourself (DIY) tinkerers rather than in business’ big-monied labs. That pattern in technological evolutionary pulses is still occurring today. These brave new hackers are carving our future on a shoestring and a prayer, just as innovative icons have done – from Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (who began HP in a garage), to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (who hand-built the first Apple personal computer kit) to Bill Gates (who scored a demo meeting with a microcomputer manufacturer for software he hadn’t yet written for a computer he didn’t own). This new breed of at-home, do-it-yourself innovators and entrepreneurs are called the biohackers, although some prefer to be called “biopunks” since the term “hackers” has gained a negative connotation. Birthing of the Biopunks So, what is biohacking, you ask? The Invisible Visible Biopunks

Disinfectants 'train' superbugs to resist antibiotics Disinfectants could effectively train bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, research suggests. Scientists know bacteria can become inured to disinfectant, but research increasingly shows the same process may make them resistant to certain drugs. This can occur even with an antibiotic the bacteria have not been exposed to. Writing in Microbiology, the National University of Ireland team, who focused on a common hospital bacterium, urges a rethink of how infections are managed. Scientists in Galway found that by adding increasing amounts of disinfectant to cultures of pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lab, the bacteria learnt to resist not only the disinfectant but also ciprofloxacin - a commonly-prescribed antibiotic - even without being exposed to it. The researchers report the bacteria had adapted to pump out anti-microbial agents - be they a disinfectant or an antibiotic - from their cells. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium most likely to infect those who are already seriously ill.

the-mammoth-cometh Photo The first time Ben Novak saw a passenger pigeon, he fell to his knees and remained in that position, speechless, for 20 minutes. He was 16. At 13, Novak vowed to devote his life to resurrecting extinct animals. At 14, he saw a photograph of a passenger pigeon in an Audubon Society book and “fell in love.” Continue reading the main story Can Hobbyists and Hackers Transform Biotechnology? For most of us, managing our health means visiting a doctor. The more serious our concerns, the more specialized a medical expert we seek. Our bodies often feel like foreign and frightening lands, and we are happy to let someone with an MD serve as our tour guide. For most of us, our own DNA never makes it onto our personal reading list. Biohackers are on a mission to change all that. These do-it-yourself biology hobbyists want to bring biotechnology out of institutional labs and into our homes. In Biopunk, journalist Marcus Wohlsen surveys the rising tide of the biohacker movement, which has been made possible by a convergence of better and cheaper technologies. Wohlson discovers that biohackers, like the open-source programmers and software hackers who came before, are united by a profound idealism. Things ReviewedBiopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of LifeBy Marcus Wohlsen Current, $25.95

Single-Cell Genomics Allows Identification of New Cell Types How many types of cells are there in the human body? Textbooks say a couple of hundred. But the true number is undoubtedly far larger. Piece by piece, a new, more detailed catalogue of cell types is emerging from labs like that of Aviv Regev at the Broad Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which are applying recent advances in single-cell genomics to study individual cells at a speed and scale previously unthinkable. The technology applied at the Broad uses fluidic systems to separate cells on microscopic conveyor belts and then submits them to detailed genetic analysis, at the rate of thousands per day. Regev says she has been working with the new methods to classify cells in mouse retinas and human brain tumors, and she is finding cell types never seen before. Other labs are racing to produce their own surveys and improve the underlying technology. Such surveys have only recently become possible, scientists say.

Acacia plant controls ants with chemical Plants have systems for keeping their six-legged inhabitants in check In Africa and in the tropics, armies of tiny creatures make the twisting stems of acacia plants their homes. Aggressive, stinging ants feed on the sugary nectar the plant provides and live in nests protected by its thick bark. This is the world of "ant guards". The acacias might appear overrun by them, but the plants have the ants wrapped around their little stems. These same plants that provide shelter and produce nourishing nectar to feed the insects also make chemicals that send them into a defensive frenzy, forcing them into retreat. Nigel Raine, a scientist working at Royal Holloway, University of London in the UK has studied this plant-ant relationship. Dr Raine and his colleagues from the universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Reading in the UK and Lund University in Sweden have been trying to work out some of the ways in which the insects and the acacias might have co-evolved. Give and take Selective deterrents

Why upgrading your brain could make you less human | Aeon Ideas Within the lifetimes of most children today, bioenhancement is likely to become a basic feature of human society. Personalised pharmaceuticals will enable us to modify our bodies and minds in powerful and precise ways, with far fewer side-effects than today’s drugs. New brain-machine interfaces will improve our memory and cognition, extend our senses, and confer direct control over an array of semi-intelligent gadgets. Do you find these ideas disquieting? But if we’re not careful, we ignore the fact that these ‘products’ are altering key aspects of a human being’s selfhood. Get Aeon straight to your inbox The problem of dehumanisation isn’t new, as the bleak history of war, colonialism and slavery attests. If human bioenhancement becomes widespread in the coming decades, there’s every reason to expect that these insidious tendencies will intensify. Anyone who speaks in this manner has crossed an invisible but critically important line. So, what can you do?

Hong Kong researchers store data in bacteria Artificial Stupidity Artificial Stupidity by Ali Minai "My colleagues, they study artificial intelligence; me, I study natural stupidity." —Amos Tversky, (quoted in “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis). Not only is this quote by Tversky amusing, it also offers profound insight into the nature of intelligence – real and artificial. The work of Tversky and Kahneman focused on showing systematically that much of intelligence is not rational. The field of AI began with the conceit that, ultimately, everything is computation, and that reproducing intelligence – even life itself – was only a matter of finding the “correct” algorithms. When an animal produces a fruitful or futile behavior, it is because of how the electrical and chemical activity of its cells (including the neurons of the nervous system) is shaped by this interaction. One of the biggest gaps between AI and natural intelligence is speed. Two things may provide some insight here.

Close encounters with Japan's 'living fossil' Dr Takeyoshi Tochimoto gives a guided tour of the world's biggest amphibian It soon becomes clear that the giant salamander has hit Claude Gascon's enthusiasm button smack on the nose. "This is a dinosaur, this is amazing," he enthuses. "We're talking about salamanders that usually fit in the palm of your hand. This one will chop your hand off." As a leader of Conservation International's (CI) scientific programmes, and co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Dr Gascon has seen a fair few frogs and salamanders in his life; but little, he says, to compare with this. Fortunately for all of our digits, this particular giant salamander is in no position to chop off anything, trapped in a tank in the visitors' centre in Maniwa City, about 800km west of Tokyo. If local legend is to be believed, though, this specimen is a mere tadpole compared with the biggest ever seen around Maniwa. Close family

Brain is 10 times more active than previously measured -- ScienceDaily A new UCLA study could change scientists' understanding of how the brain works -- and could lead to new approaches for treating neurological disorders and for developing computers that "think" more like humans. The research focused on the structure and function of dendrites, which are components of neurons, the nerve cells in the brain. Neurons are large, tree-like structures made up of a body, the soma, with numerous branches called dendrites extending outward. Scientists have believed that this was dendrites' primary role. But the UCLA team discovered that dendrites are not just passive conduits. "Dendrites make up more than 90 percent of neural tissue," said UCLA neurophysicist Mayank Mehta, the study's senior author. The research is reported in the March 9 issue of the journal Science. The researchers also found that dendrites generate large fluctuations in voltage in addition to the spikes; the spikes are binary, all-or-nothing events.

Harvard scientists to make LSD factory from microbes Students on a bread making course. But did the tutor remember to warn them about the other things that yeast turn into? Photograph: Fabio De Paola Jake Wintermute wanted to save the world rather than make a pile of money. A PhD student in Pam Silver's synthetic biology lab at Harvard Medical School he worked on biofuels in the hope of one day making them commercial alternatives to fossil fuels. From time to time, venture capitalists would come by for a chat. The advice got Wintermute thinking. Wintermute and his colleagues had a good laugh about that. With the tools of synthetic biology, Wintermute thought they might do better. Wintermute gave an update on the project last week at the Synthetic Biology 5 conference at Stanford University. This could be the first step towards a new living factory for making LSD, and thanks to previous experience with microbes, scaling up this kind of technology should not be too arduous for the pharmaceutical industry.