The Open Science Summit was last weekend, and a great many panelests presented on various aspects of science, research and education, and how open source can play a role.
The above video is a promo video shot a few months ago.
At 46 seconds into the video, Jason Bobe and Mac Cowell of DIYBio starts talking about amature/hobby scientists and the roles they can play in cutting edge research, and contributing to the scientific community in general. Mac mentions open science hardware, and the fact that some $5000 machines are actually quite simple to make, and relatively cheap to manufacture. The high margins are supported by the fact that the science market is small, and the institutions paying for the equipment have large budgets. The fact remains, much of the hardware can be built in your garage.
DIYBio's and DIY-SciB.org's mission statements are nearly identical: "dedicated to making biology an accessible pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists and biological engineers who value openness and safety." Obviously, I am more in the general realm, but the motive and sentiments are the same.
Citizen scientists have so much more power now than they did a few years ago. We are slowly returning to the days in which rogue lab geeks working in their garage could invent the lightbulb, or discover new properties of materials. When a kid could build a basement fusion reactor for less than the cost of his first car, you know 'Big Science" is losing its grip.