Skip to content

citizen science

$1,000 genome is here (at last)

  • by

Last week, San Diego life sciences equipment developer, Illumina, announced the arrival of the $1,000 genome. According to their stats, running an entire human genome through one of their fast process HiSeqX 10 sequencing machines could spit out the US$1,000 result in a day. Although commercial companies already offer personal partial genome analysis for a lower price, the Illumina revelation places widespread, population-based whole-genome profiling in the realm of possibility rather than science fiction.

Read More »$1,000 genome is here (at last)

A smartphone-based mobile lab?

  • by

Engineers at Cornell University presented work on smartphone-based medicine at CLEO: 2013 last month, the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics. Their creation is an external device that connects to a smartphone and can be used to diagnose Kaposi’s sarcoma and a slew of other serious conditions. Based on the press release, the smartphone itself isn’t doing any sensing. Instead, it acts as a lightweight and (relatively) low-cost computer that analyzes the input from the external device and displays the results to the user.

Read More »A smartphone-based mobile lab?

The uBiome controversy

  • by

uBiome is a cool project serving a widely recognized need: the mapping of the human microbiome. We’ve posted about uBiome on Twitter and Facebook, and have generally been pretty jazzed about the enterprise. Our enthusiasm took a major hit, however, when Melissa Bates and other bloggers began to voice serious concerns about the ethical oversight of the project, or rather the apparent lack thereof.

Read More »The uBiome controversy

Muses: DIY spectroscopy

  • by

The Public Lab is, I think, a generally stellar example of how to go about citizen science: they identify genuine, pressing scientific needs that are underserved by existing institutions, develop effective and practical ways of addressing them, and then deftly articulate both to the public. Those steps are difficult enough to get right individually, let alone all at once—and repeatedly. Their ingenuity, insight and deep understanding of practical citizen science makes them not just role models, but inspirations. And that makes them an excellent subject for our first “Muses” post—a category for people and projects we find inspiring.

A whole lot of science fan culture tends to focus on heavy machinery: think the Large Hadron Collider or the Curiosity rover. These things are important for physicists and astronomers (and fans like me), but if you’re in a wetland, a factory, residential area, or salmon farm and you encounter an unknown substance, particle collision is not going to tell you what’s in your water. For that, you need spectrometry. And for that, it turns out, you do not need a PhD. Read More »Muses: DIY spectroscopy