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13 Ways DIY Science Triumphed In 2013

Because sometimes you don't need a PhD to change the world.

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2. 13-year old outsmarts lions with bright invention


Kenyan teen Richard Turere created a lion deterrent system using broken flashlight and motorcycle parts to protect his father's herd of cows. The device also helps to save the endangered lions by preventing fatal conflict with humans.

3. 80,000 people around the world help to map retinal neurons


Eyewire harnesses the addictiveness of video games to uncover how vision works. Players color nerve cells in slices of tissue to help map incredibly complex neural networks. Thousands have joined in so far and you can too!


4. Amateur astronomers contribute to Mars missions

It's been a big year for exploration on Mars. Citizen astronomers played a role too via the Planet Four project, where participants helped analyze millions of never seen before images of the Martian surface, taken by NASA's Reconnaissance Orbiter.

6. iPhone microscopes are used to diagnose intestinal worms


In Tanzania ad hoc microscopes, assembled from an iPhone, flashlight and a camera lens, were used to detect intestinal parasites. The worms infect 2 billion people globally, mainly in poor areas, causing malnutrition and stunted growth.

7. Concerned residents send a robot to save a polluted canal

The Gowanus Canal is too toxic to be explored by humans. So NYU students built a robotic vessel, the Brooklyn Atlantis, to collect information about water quality. A team of over 600 community members analyze the environmental data generated.


8. DIY biology continues to flourish

William Ward on Flickr / Via Flickr: wwward0

Hacker spaces like Genspace continue to grow and introduce eager amateurs to hands-on biology. Meanwhile, indie scientists tackled important problems underfunded by market-driven grants including mobile malaria testing, antibiotic discovery, and a long-standing puzzle in mental health research.

9. Magic STEM buses help kids do science everywhere

Via Lucky Tran

Science buses with onboard laboratory equipment helped to bring science to kids around the country. This year, New York's BioBus upgraded its equipment and Chicago's Think Tank launched with a successful crowdfunding campaign.

10. Citizen scientists help protect threatened species

Luis J. Villanueva on Flickr / Via Flickr: ljvillanueva

As many species come under increasing threat, concerned citizens participated in public conservation projects such as ARBIMON, where contributors use modded iPods and special software to record audio and monitor biodiversity in the field.

11. African inventor creates a 3D printer out of garbage

Woelab / Via

Up to 50 million tons of electronic waste is generated every year. Thankfully there are resourceful inventors like Togo's Afate who makes 3D printers using leftover computer and scanner parts that he recovers from local dumping places.

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