What is Hackuarium all about?

We are all scientists! Curiosity and imagination always lead humanity to new horizons, and we believe everyone should get a chance to participate. Three years ago, we founded Hackuarium to bring biology (and research) to the world, and the real world back to biology. The idea was to democratise research by providing a community laboratory to anyone who wants to explore biology and technology in general. A lot of things have happened since! Many projects were launched - some made yeast and moss sing in London; another sent a rover to the South Pole; and still others try to enable citizen science. One thing is certain: Hackuarium is a fantastic place to meet curious minds and discuss, build and develop ideas in a neutral, open, noncompetitive and not-for-profit environment. Hackuarium is unique, and we want you to be part of the adventure. We can’t do it by ourselves! Do it together with us!

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We need your help to thrive!

Hackuarium is run by a group of committed volunteers. We greatly benefit from the support of the Foundation Inartis who provides us with space in UniverCity in the ’Ateliers de Renens,’ but in order to make things better, we need extra funds. For instance, our newly renovated P1 laboratory (activities officially starting 1 November!) needs to be hooked up to water, and the fume hood ventilated. An ice machine and a -80 freezer to store strains of microorganisms that we use for experiments would also be ideal. By contributing to this campaign, you can help us make Hackuarium even better, stronger and more productive! The mission of the Hackuarium community is to run a laboratory where anyone can work on a project. We want it to be open to visitors like you, to organise events and discussions, and to share our passion and help anyone who has a question - about biology, about science in general, about technology - to find some answers. With particular mini-grant, you can even help the project of your choice reach the next level. By offering workshops in exchange, we hope you too will get excited about joining in this adventure. The goodies? Well, we’ve included some for you too, with our really cool logo. Stick it, wear it, carry it. Enjoy! In style. You are also cordially invited to join in for our weekly Open Hackuarium nights, every Wednesday from 19:00.

At Hackuarium, we talk a little, we do a lot!

Everyone has a question, a challenge, a goal! Some call it a moonshot! To give you an idea of what we do, we made a selection of projects currently happening in our community laboratory. Pick your favourite, help them find an answer, or join them to learn more about beer, bees, moss, light, owls or your own cells!

BeerDeCoded - There is DNA in my beer!

BeerDeCoded is a pretext to discuss the potential of gene sequencing with you and other fellow citizens, while advancing scientific knowledge about the most popular beverage of all - beer! You got it, it’s about beer and DNA. We have already collected genetic information about 39 different beers from 5 different countries. But we want more! And we want you to learn all about it. We already know beers are full of different yeast, even wild ones! Now bring your own beer and let’s find out what is in there. If you want to know more, see: http://www.genome.beer

BeeMoS - open source honey bee monitoring system

Ever looked at a beehive? Ever tried to count how many bees fly in and out? Not possible, right? Well, soon it will be. Because honey bees are so important for the ecosystem, we started the BeeMoS project. The goal is to build an electronic system that can provide a count of bees entering and exiting the hive, and other valuable information about its weight and temperature, and much more! The decline of honey bee populations represents a threat to food security, and not just honey! Help us understand them better. If you want to learn more, see: http://wiki.hackuarium.ch/w/Open_source_solar_honey_bee_hive_monitoring_system

Living Instruments - The biomusical experience

The Living Instruments project is a unique and extraordinary sensory experience! After a world première in Switzerland and a series of concerts at home and abroad, in early 2018 the project is coming back to where it was created: Le Bourg in Lausanne! It is a live music performance on stage, augmented with a rich visual universe that is a joint production by We Spoke New Music ensemble and members of the Hackuarium community. Listening to the Living Instruments, you will literally see the power of nature turned into sound. If you want to learn more, see: http://www.hackuarium.ch/en/living-instruments/

Open-source spectrophotometer - make science visible!

Have colours in your pocket! We have developed an open-source and user-friendly spectrophotometer for education. With this instrument, you can measure the colour of a liquid, even guess how strong your coffee is, for example. It is designed to be cheap and small, so that you can take it anywhere you want. Everyone can use it, and you can open the box and peer inside to see how it works. We also have a web page to let you find out more about science experiments you can perform with it! If you want to learn more, see: https://github.com/open-spectro/spectrophotometer/

Genomic integrity: your cells for citizen science.

The DNA of your cells keeps being damaged, by the sun, by smoke, by environmental factors and all those other bad habits. But, rejoice! Cells can also repair their DNA! Of course, it is better to avoid damage, but evolution needs some variety. At Hackuarium, we are open-sourcing classic methods to check cellular genomic integrity in simple ways, looking for breaks in DNA molecules. You can look at your own cheek cells and even use a DIY microscope, to see how much damage is observed, and also learn more about quantitative biological research. Maybe you can even help find out more about which products or habits we really should avoid! AGiR! for our future together! for more info, see: http://wiki.hackuarium.ch/w/AGiR!_for_genomic_integrity

DIY Evolutionary Machine

One of the problems with producing chemicals via fermentation (such as alcohol) is that the cell that can actually make the stuff needs to be optimised. We invite you to take part in an ongoing project to design and build a natural selection machine capable of evolving a population of cells towards better productivity. This will be done by applying natural selection in a high-throughput fashion.

Digital Nestboxes

Barn owl ecology is monitored in western Switzerland by putting up artificial nest boxes. When the owls nest, a wide range of physiological, physical or behavioural parameters can be measured in the adults or the chicks. However, to obtain these data we often have to catch the owls, thus inducing a light stress. The idea of this project is to monitor the movements of all the individuals all year round through a low-cost, RFID-based device, without any disturbance to the owls. For more info, see: http://nestbox.octanis.org/

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