GOSH and AfricaOSH Community in Physics World!

A new piece highlighting open science hardware in the developing world has been published by Physics World, featuring many members of the GOSH and AfricaOSH communities! Including @amchagas @rbowman @Rojos @ifriad @cjmushi & more.

Check out the snippet below and read the full article here.

"In the developing world it’s difficult to get and maintain the hi-tech equipment we associate with modern laboratories. But could open-science hardware provide a lifeline? Rachel Brazil investigates.

Walk into any modern physics laboratory and you’ll see all kinds of hi-tech instruments. There are spectrometers, microscopes, oscilloscopes and diffractometers all spitting out data, spectra and images. Apart from being expensive, the main problem with these “black-box” instruments is that they can’t be fully inspected or customized. If they break, you often have to pay engineers to come and fix them.

But what if you could make your own equipment? This is the principle behind the open-science hardware movement, which lets people make, modify and share hardware for scientific use. By sharing design blueprints and using 3D printers, equipment can be made quickly and cheaply. The idea has caught the imagination of many researchers, but for scientists in Africa and other parts of the developing world, open-science hardware is a lifeline that could benefit their teaching and research."

Read the full article here >>

Great article! Just wanted to invite people to check our repository of open source hardware for teaching physics, college or university level. You’ll find an air track with data acquisition system, a system to study rotational motion, an interactive physical pendulum and more.



Hi GOSHers,

This article, in spite of being entitled “open science hardware in the developing world”, has a narrative of “developed countries developing open science hardware for the developing world”. That is not a good description of GOSH.

Pablo’s repository is a great example of literally “open science hardware in the developing world”, but it doesn’t fit Physics World’s narrative. Richard’s microscope is great, but why not mention Isaac and Tamara’s imaging system too? (from the developing world). I’m sure Physics World would be interested also in knowing there’s a center focused in open hardware in physics in Brazil. And I’m only mentioning some friends from around here. I’m sure there are many more examples, in physics and other fields too.

Those of you who are new to the forum, please know that there is a lot of open science hardware development all over the world, and international collaboration doesn’t have to go only one way.



Hi everyone, and thanks for putting this in here Gustavo, I pretty much agree with your statement. I was sadly surprised by the tone of the article and the arguments and conclusions reached by the author. So much so that I’ll go through the process of deconstructing it, trying to clearly show what was that bothered me and why. I’ll do so in the next day or so and will post it here because I think it is important to discuss these issues among community members. I’ll be back when I’m settled in front of my laptop and with a chamomile tea next to me.

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Thanks for starting this conversation @gpereyrairujo (and @paz). I’m looking forward to reading Paz’s break down of the article, but agree and find it jarring that this article is as Gustavo suggests-- people and projects from “developed countries developing open science hardware for the developing world”.

I wonder if as a community, when a journalist wants to write about open science hardware and/or GOSH that we request they read the manifesto (not just note that one was written) to really understand what is at the core of our work. This wouldn’t mean interference in what is written, which journalists won’t go for, but it would require people to understand our agreed upon values. In this case specifically, points under “GOSH has no high priests” and “GOSH allows multiple futures for science” would have potentially helped to change the narrative laid out in this article.

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just my 2 bits here - a couple of crazy things about people: 1) how few will read a paragraph to the end and 2) how many really do simply seem to want ‘high priests’ and to be told what to do. Yet they want to feel like they are rational, while making their most convincing conclusions with the least amount of data… (à la D Kahneman) Journalists not wanting to read is really a sad state of affairs, of course! All these tendencies add to our work - esp considering that the manifesto comprises a short and simple set of phrases, not any long text… We can build the multiple futures for science together - but it will not be without a struggle! Greetings to all and looking forward to Shenzhen!

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Hi all
I’m not sure but maybe the air track build by @ifriad mentioned in the article is the one that @pablocremades designed…

a detail that bends a little this too linear narrative

I shure liked the comments of goshers cited in the article

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Greetings Nano and Pablo. I hope that you are well and fine.

Thanks for pointing this. Actually yes for the air track yes it was the design pointed to me by Pablo. That’s why when I mentioned the air track I used we and not I, which I used when mentioning the timer.

I hope the above clears this point where I didn’t claim any originality.

Regards Ihab


Hi Ihab,
thanks for clearing that point, I didn’t meant to say anything about claiming originality just wanted to make a point about the general tone of the article
We also made a photogate prototype in case you want to take a look.

ps: we would be very pleased to see a picture of the african version of the air track:slightly_smiling_face:


Well, I think Shannon and the rest said it all. They did the deconstruction haha :slight_smile:

I think Shannon’s idea of asking journalists to read the manifesto is a good one. It might help journalists at least have a clearer idea how diverse and non-conforming (and annoying hehe) we can be.

I’m not too sure but when a journalist asks you for an interview I guess there is a chance to assess in advance whether she/he gets some key points or not after reading the manifesto or if the editorial of the specific media platform kind of fits. If not then maybe is better not to get quoted, let them do their thing without “endorsing” (not sure this is the right word) them. Anyways, I think this is material for a session in China, hope you guys get to talk about it at some point.

Overall, I think the “high priests” issue pointed out by the others here is the key problem with the article.

Does anyone has or knows of a list of media platforms with investigative journalism? Maybe that’s one of the resources we should have at hand. In Chile, El Desconcierto (http://www.eldesconcierto.cl/) is one platform I could have good access to (although at present they don’t do investigative journalism really…) because one good friend (and OSH supporter) is part of the board.

Anyways, a couple of extra deconstruction points (only as documentation haha, the summaries given by gustavo, shannon, rachel, etc. are better):

  1. The first 5 paragraphs do not say anything about developing countries. Yet they get mentioned as the main context to be investigated in the very first paragraph (the one in bold).
    Then, under the “Joy in sharing” secondary headline only Europeans get quoted, and no word about developing regions or anything related. So, there we are in paragraph number 12 and nothing about what’s supposed to be the key line of inquiry… And again, it’s great work what Tom and the rest do, and they need and deserve to be interviewed, quoted, etc. etc. This critique is not about them.

  2. Then it came the secondary headline “International community”. I was here expecting some delving into our “South” but no, instead a killer phrase that sounded like: oh, only europeans are part of the community and they are so charitable towards the poor developing world: “Bowman’s desire to make something that could be used in developing nations is a common theme among members of the open-science hardware community.” And is all charity like stuff -cool stuff but again the voices of those in Africa or other regions are nowhere to be seen (no mention of Latin America and the Caribbean in the article). In the paragraph where Andre Maia gets quoted, at the end it says: “On the last day of the course, the delegates disassembled the 3D printers and each group took one home.” There was a chance here to give it the stated direction to the article!, like: who were those delegates? what happened to those printers? That could have been a rather easy lead to follow but no.

  3. Then a maybe more promising start: “But how easy or feasible is it for scientists in the developing world to take on these approaches? Ihab Riad, a physicist at the University of Khartoum in Sudan is one of a growing number of African scientists starting to build their own hardware.” Note the “growing numbers”. Had I been the editor I would have asked: well, who are they, where are they, are thy part of local institutions? What do they say…

  4. “Overall, open-science hardware is now a sizeable albeit niche activity, mainly driven by enthusiastic scientists in the developed world. It has allowed them to create bespoke equipment and conveniently print small accessories.” Now, this is one big conclusion “mainly driven”, one that’s not properly supported in the article.

  5. “But in the developing world, and particularly Africa, open-science hardware could make a real difference to scientific progress”. Well, the author said before “a growing number of African scientists starting to build…” and then in here the author says there is potential, but not actual work going on.