Friday, August 10, 2012


festive North have only been in California for a conference to help keep up with federal biologists tinkering around the world.


was one of them

In Madlab we are used to unusual requests. We have an area of ??3,000 square meters of the community for Science, Technology and Art in downtown Manchester, and therefore the organization and host a variety of events - the robots 'piracy' toy play football for kimchi, or dissection of the octopus (and eat). But in May, we received a most unexpected of our questions, but:

she wanted to invite everyone to an upcoming workshop organized by the FBI. Please join us in the workshop, 12-14 June 2012 in California.

Wow! So first, some history: one of our projects is called DIYBioMCR, a do-it-yourself biology (DIYBio) group originally created in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University and supported by the Wellcome Trust . It was a great success, and have introduced hundreds of people to biology last year with the manufacture of fuel cells (fueled by bacteria in soil taken from the NCP car parks), snail farming and cleaning stalls bus to count the number of bacterial colonies that grow there.

More recently, we were building our own laboratory equipment and perform experiments that would normally be performed in an academic or commercial, as the DNA code sushi bar (to check what you eat is actually yellowfin tuna).

Why this invitation? What could the FBI learn of a community space in Manchester? Here the chief special agent Nathaniel explain:

brings us to sunny San Francisco. Over the last three days we attended presentations and panel discussions with FBI agents and 60 more or less prominent members of the movement DIYbio growth in the U.S., Europe and Asia. This is a varied audience - scientists, artists, designers, journalists, activists and academics are all represented and extent of the activity was unbelievable. We saw presentations on the collection of biological samples from the Arctic Circle, the conversion of mobile food carts in Singapore in mobile laboratories public, experimental aquaculture in Indonesia, playing Pacman with bacteria and DNA printing with an inkjet printer modified.

Amid the frivolity, there are no illusions about which we are all here. When you see the word "amateur", "open" and "biotechnology" in the same sentence, an initial reaction is not atypical could be one of shock and concern, followed shortly by a series of imaginary scenarios of nightmare. For our part, Madlab was featured in a couple of BBC programs flitting from smallpox to the biology of fans (known horror / error of the debate) in seconds, meaning that a "group boys in a garage "can accidentally bring down humanity with equipment purchased on eBay.

The last day we move in Silicon Valley for a practice session to do something that only a few years ago would have seemed inconceivable ...

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