Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00

Bring Your Crochet Hook to Boston For Science Hack Day

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science hack dayThere's only one place this weekend where you could crochet proteins, make a laser phonograph, crowd source a science fraud detector, and build a machine that sorts candy by color (a flow confectionometer?). Anyone with an interest in science and a playful streak can sign up to join a two day "science hacker" community in Boston this weekend at Harvard Northwest Building for free (thanks to sponsors like the ASCB), contributing to projects or coming up with their own. 

"Hacking" might make you think of illegal computer operations but software freedom activist and computer programmer Richard Stallman has a different definition. "Hacking means exploring the limits of what is possible, in a spirit of playful cleverness," he says. Science Hack Day Boston's organizer, ASCB member Jessica Polka, who blogs for COMPASS, explains, "Working hard (and with playful fearlessness) on a different difficult problem for a short period of time is therapeutic."

Hack days became popular in the mid 2000s, with a focus on technology, especially software innovation. The first official Science Hack Day was held in London in 2010. The London hackers built a satellite tracking site, a "co-author cloud," and a kid-centric measurement comparison online tool. Since then Science Hack Days have been organized all over the world and have generated such triumphs as the strawberry DNAquiri (a delicious DNA extraction), or utilizing smartphones to detect earthquakes.

During this two-day (with optional onsite sleepover for those 18 and over) event, science hackers will organize into project teams on Saturday and share their progress in short presentations on Sunday. Bring your creativity, sleeping bag, and anything you might need to start a hack project, even a crochet hook.

Christina Szalinski

Christina is a science writer for the American Society for Cell Biology. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

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