Science Appliances was a design research project as part of my degree project at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Through this project, I got to live out my childhood dream of becoming a scientist and find a way to inspire other non-scientists to engage with science and experimentation.
Many people believe that scientific discovery is limited to complex or expensive experiments in institutional settings and that you can’t experiment without the right tools and budget. Gone are the early days of science, where self-proclaimed natural philosophers and hobbyists made important discoveries in their kitchen sinks or between the weeds in their back yard.
“So how can anyone in this day and age, who is not a certified scientist, contribute to our understanding of the world?“
Several years ago, I started conducting my own DIY experiments, and interviewed scientists at institutions like the Diamond Light Source, CERN, and John Innes Centre Genetics Research Lab in Norwich to gain a better understanding of the current state of science.
Cost and know-how turned out to be the main factors limiting access to the right tools and thus the means to conducting your own experiments at home.
It was at the DIY Biology Club, a part of the London hackspace, where a solution presented itself. Here anyone can learn about and experiment with DNA and Synthetic Biology, following structured open-source guides. The Club uses improvised tools made from general household materials and kitchen appliances, which most resemble scientific instruments. Since many people have a kitchen full of appliances, this sparked a question:
“What if I were to design appliances that could easily be turned into scientific instruments?”
As prototypes, these Domestic Science Machines envision a scenario where scientific experiments and scientific exploration are made accessible to the general public by placing the right tools into people’s homes. These machines are home appliances that can easily be transformed into scientific instruments. When paired with comprehensive open-source knowledge, even beginners can run experiments at home. I hope that when people are given the right tools and knowledge, they will be inspired to discover something new in their seemingly ordinary surroundings.
The coffee machine spectrometer uses light to analyze the chemical compounds of coffee or any other material the user wants to experiment with.
The salad spinner centrifuge takes advantage of the centripetal force generated by the spinning motion to separate liquids.
The portable microscope allows the user to explore the microscopic world around them through a modified webcam connected to a display tablet.
A slow cooker that can be used as a DNA cycler to grow DNA for experiments with synthetic biology.