Great piece on the work being done by community labs and how that work fits (or doesn’t fit) into the broader scientific community, from The New Yorker.
One evening in February, I went to hear a lecture at the Baltimore Underground Science Space, a community lab in a former bottle-top factory. Like several dozen other “biospaces” around the country, bugss, as the lab is known, is animated by a spirit of subversive amateurism. Anybody can go there to learn about, and then do, the kind of cutting-edge bench science—gene editing, synthetic biology—that is generally confined to well-funded academic institutions and private corporations. Inside, a chalkboard with cartoon drawings of a microbe and a double helix welcomes newcomers, but the lab areas are seriously kitted out. bugss has a real-time PCR machine, the gadget that allows scientists to make millions of copies of a particular strand of DNA, in order to study and manipulate it. “We don’t have a lot else that’s super fancy,” Lisa Scheifele, the lab’s executive director, told me, though that might depend on how fancy you consider such items as a laminar-flow hood (“for working with cells and cultures that you really don’t want contaminated,” according to the lab’s Web site), an Alpha Innotech gel imager, or a negative-seventy–degree storage freezer. “We have what we need,” Scheifele said. “You can do most genetics here. You can do microbiology.”
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.