We need to break science out of its ivory tower – here’s one way to do this
But limited access to scientific tools impedes the progress and reach of science by restricting the type of people who can participate in research, favouring those who have access to well-resourced laboratories in industrial or academic institutions.
Likewise, public concerns and desire for transparency around technology can also be ignored.
Research on fracking has received $137 million from the United States Department of Energy.
Locking science inside ivory and industry towers restricts what it can look like.
Open hardware The open science hardware movement challenges these norms with the goal of providing different futures for science, using hardware as a launching point.
For example, open source project Oceanography for Everyone recently crowdfunded an open conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) instrument out of frustration with the lack of low-cost instrumentation available.
Oceanography for Everyone’s model achieves comparable data but costs US$300 to build, and the plans are public on GitHub.
Lower cost is only one goal of open science hardware.
Instruments such as OpenCTD and White Rabbit are built on the premise of equality, the idea that everyone should have access to scientific tools.
And recent data from UNESCO indicates that only 28% of researchers globally are women.