Amateur hobbyists are creating home-brew molecular-biology labs, but can they ferment a revolution?
Rob Carlson's path to becoming a biohacker began with a chance encounter on the train in 1996. Carlson, a physics PhD student at the time, was travelling to New York to find a journal article that wasn't available at his home institution, Princeton University in New Jersey. He found himself sitting next to an inquisitive elderly gentlemen. Carlson told him about his thesis research on the effects of physical forces on blood cells, and at the end of the journey, the stranger made him an offer. "You should come work for me," said the man, "I'm Dr Sydney Brenner." The name meant little to Carlson, who says he thought: "Yeah, OK. Whatever, 'Dr Sydney Brenner.'"