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Garage Biotech: The Book

I haven’t read it yet, but there’s a new book on the whole “garage biotech” field, which I’ve blogged about hereand here. Biopunk looks to be a survey of the whole movement; I hope to go through it shortly.
I’m still on the “let a thousand flowers bloom” side of this issue, myself, but it’s certainly not without its worries. But this is the world we’ve got – where these things are possible, and getting more possible all the time – and we’re going to have to make the best of it. Trying to stuff it back down will, I think, only increase the proportion of harmful lunatics who try it.
By the way, since that’s an Amazon link, I should note that I do get a cut from them whenever someone buys through a link on the site, and not just from the particular item ordered. I’ve never had a tip jar on the site, and I never plan to, but the Amazon affiliate program does provide some useful book-buying money around here at no cost to the readership.

10 comments on “Garage Biotech: The Book”

  1. processchemist says:

    “Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life”???
    The sub-subtitle should be “don’t get me serious, I’m just delirious”.
    When my friends biologists at the university had the air conditioning system down for 2 days in summer, the open windows caused a total mess …
    It seems a bit too “Fringe” (the TV serie) oriented-influenced…

  2. johnnyboy says:

    Well,”don’t judge a book by its cover” should probably be updated to “don’t judge a book by its title and subheading”. These days authors don’t necessarily have a big say in their book’s title, and publishers often go over the edge trying to ‘jazz it up’.

  3. I am reading it now and it’s interesting. I am all for it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m just waiting for someone entrepreneurial scientist to splice THC gene into brewing yeast.

  5. gippgig says:

    For a review of this book see the April 14 issue of Nature (472 167).
    If it hasn’t already been done, someone should write a safety manual for genetic engineering and preferably make it available on the web. (Note that growing even ordinary bacteria is something you shouldn’t try if you don’t understand what you’re doing.) Biological containment strains (that have mutations that make it impossible to survive in the wild) should also be readily available to biohackers.

  6. Analyst says:

    I just finished the book last night. Excellent example of Pip Coburn’s “routing around institutions” hypothesis. I salute you, Biopunks.

  7. newnickname says:

    You can start a software company in your kitchen and get rich. You can start a “social networking website” in your kitchen and get rich.
    You can even start a BIOtech company in your kitchen (REAL examples that might not want to be publicized too much because it does involve breaking the law) and get rich. I remember a story of a guy who got a -80 freezer at auction and escaped detection when his electric bill skyrocketed by pointing to his backyard Jacuzzi. “I’m using it a lot more these days. Very relaxing. Thanks for asking, though.”
    Kitchen bio has it EASY compared to kitchen chem.
    Those of you who read Max Gergel’s memoirs (“Excuse Me Sir, …” and “Ageless Gergel”) might recall his story of someone doing kitchen chemistry (in Israel, I think) who dumped waste down the kitchen sink but some vapors sickened and killed another person in the apartment building. ‘He quietly shut down and moved to a new address …’
    Bio guys can buy a 100 pound sack of sucrose or agar from a bakery supply company or amazon and not raise an eyebrow. Almost anything “chemical” will you put you on the FBI or DHS watchlist.
    I am NOT in favor of breaking the law, polluting the environment (Excuse Me, Sir!) or killing the neighbors (well, there is the guy with the really loud music …). I’m just “complaining” that the nature of BIO is that it’s easier for them to get away with that stuff and start up a company illegally.
    (I think this post is partially in response to people who know NOTHING about chemistry saying to me stuff like, ‘Where’s your entrepreneurial spirit? Why don’t you just do it at home, like those biopunk guys?’)

  8. Morten says:

    Confused by the fact that the Kindle version is more expensive than the dead tree version but I’m looking forward to checking out the free chapter to see if it’s good.

  9. Toni says:

    I don’t think just anybody should start experimenting with genetics, biology or chemistry in their garage, kitchen, or basement without some prior education or research into what their getting into. I applaud those who do it because individual innovation rarely rewarded in the age of big pharma! As long as you’re safe and do your homework I say go for it! For all those who think it shouldn’t or can’t be done….
    see…Merck (started by 2 brothers in 1668) in their house, see William Perkins who discovered aniline in his home lab, see RBI now Sigma-RBI started by one guy in his garage, see Strem Chemicals,

  10. Toni says:

    I don’t think just anybody should start experimenting with genetics, biology or chemistry in their garage, kitchen, or basement without some prior education or research into what their getting into. I applaud those who do it because individual innovation rarely rewarded in the age of big pharma! As long as you’re safe and do your homework I say go for it! For all those who think it shouldn’t or can’t be done….
    see…Merck (started by 2 brothers in 1668) in their house, see William Perkins who discovered aniline in his home lab, see RBI now Sigma-RBI started by one guy in his garage, see Strem Chemicals,

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