Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SCIENCE - The New Frontier of Biohacking

"Hackers breach biology to transform life into building material" PBS NewsHour 9/23/2014


JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Imagine a world where mushrooms can be turned into furniture, algae can be used to conduct electricity, and glowing plants can replace streetlights.  Those are examples of what’s become known as biohacking, a diverse movement that is gathering steam, converts and controversy.

NewsHour” special correspondent Spencer Michels explains.

SPENCER MICHELS (NewsHour):  In private and university labs, students and volunteers are messing with biology.  They are engaged in what’s become known as biohacking.

Stanford bioengineering Professor DREW ENDY:

DREW ENDY, Stanford University:  Hacking is a positive term, and it means learning about stuff by building, and trying to make things and seeing what happens.

SPENCER MICHELS:  That’s what they’re doing at Berkeley BioLabs.  Biohackers here are delving into biological systems, trying to figure out how the DNA in plants is controlled, how to build an inexpensive photometer for biological research, and how to use algae to make batteries.

MAN:  You’re not making electricity.  You’re storing electricity that you can recover later.

SPENCER MICHELS:  This is one of a growing number of biohacking locations, mostly off campus, where biology has become a citizen sport, a place where anyone with or without training can do hands-on biology, and perhaps change the world.

It is a new, less formal way of practicing biology than in many university or commercial labs.

Ron Shigeta, a Ph.D., chemist and biologist, co-founded the lab a year ago.

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