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FoldIt!

foldit

Ever been criticized by parents or non-gamer peers that your constant game-playing was doing nothing productive for society? Shut them up with FoldIt, a game that allows you to tackle protein folding sequences along with thousands or millions of others. Doing this allows scientists access to data that’s beenĀ  processed not by mere machines, but by absurd numbers of eyeballs, all attached to keen puzzle-solving minds. Meanwhile the software calculates the stability of the resulting molecule after your puzzle solving and the more stable it ends up, the higher score you’ll end up with.

From the site:

What big problems is this game tackling?

  • Protein structure prediction: As described above, knowing the structure of a protein is key to understanding how it works and to targeting it with drugs. A small proteins can consist of 100 amino acids, while some human proteins can be huge (1000 amino acids). The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.
  • How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases? With all the things proteins do to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, they can be involved in disease in many different ways. The more we know about how certain proteins fold, the better new proteins we can design to combat the disease-related proteins and cure the diseases.
  • See the FoldIt site here.

    See Steve Jones’ article from the Telegraph here.

    2 Comments

    1. Comments  DarkKnightH20   |  Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 3:57 PM

      My molecules are stronger than your molecules!

    2. Comments  Reuben Gathright   |  Friday, 25 September 2009 at 10:36 AM

      FoldIt is a cool app for sure. I use it on my ASUS 1005HA netbook to rest my eyes during the day. http://bit.ly/44CHFm

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