I recently went to a convention that had representatives from hackerspaces all over the country. This was very exciting to me as I was only vaguely aware of what a hackerspace was. What an exciting idea!
First let’s take a look at what a hackerspace is. A hackerspace is a group of people and a space that they provide for that has the tools, and know-how for any kind of project. Usually these people are hobbyists from all walks of life that want to explore aspects of science and technology and value learning from each other. Projects range from anything from chemistry to electronics even open-source medicine. The possibilities are endless.
I found a number of people that had found uses fro the Arduino device. This is a small device that can be assembled by any electronics hobbyist. It features a USB port or serial port and can be used to control a lot of simple devices. People even used them to modify their con badges with flashy LED displays and other modifications.
I met an idividual whom is working on an open-source electron microscope. This is a really cool idea. Right now as it stands the average person isn’t likely to gain access to that kind of equipment without a grant from a major institution. The equipment itself costs tens of thousands of dollars and is very unwieldly. This gentleman and his associates are working on a way to make this tool available for just over $1000. This would make it accessible to enthusiests and hobbyists that before could not utilize an electron microscope. He made a very valid point in his presentation that a lot of discoveries were not made by highly financed researchers in an expensive labratory, but in their homes and businesses.
There are many examples of this kind of discovery. Alexander Bell invented the telephone in his home. The wright brothers engineered powered flight in their bike shop. Thomas Edison, while he was highly financed, did not have a lot of the issues that today’s researchers have to deal with. All of these things have effected the world in a pretty profound way. The question begs to be asked what new technologies will we see as a result of continued innovations of this type.