Tuesday, September 20th 2011

Cracking a Tough AIDS Research Puzzle: Boffins 0, US Gamers 1. Rock On!

An AIDS protein folding puzzle has stumped scientists for a decade, but US gamers cracked it in a mere three weeks! This was achieved by combining the brute force logic and speed of the digital computer, with the lateral thinking of the distinctly fuzzy human brain. To achieve this, a distributed computing application called Foldit was used, which involved gamers solving individual puzzles in a competitive atmosphere. This amazing merger of minds and machine over the internet creates a sort of distributed "cybernetic organism", which combines the strengths of biological and silicon computers into something far more powerful than either alone.


The puzzles are that of protein folding, which is highly complex. So much so in fact, that even supercomputers find them tough to chew through, which is why the Stanford Folding@Home project was started a decade ago. The application transforms science problems into three dimensional puzzle challenges for gamers to solve. Within days, a workable model emerged from the challenges, which the boffins scientists were able to refine further into an accurate model of the enzyme's structure. This knowledge opens doors for scientists to design drugs that are effective at stopping HIV from multiplying.

Seth Cooper, a co-creator of Foldit, said:
People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at. Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before.
Source: Fox News
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15 Comments on Cracking a Tough AIDS Research Puzzle: Boffins 0, US Gamers 1. Rock On!

#1
Bow
I saw this yesterday :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#2
BUCK NASTY
F@H Mod & 4P Enthusiust
Ah, folding at it's best! This is what we do it for guy's!!!!

:toast::toast::toast:
Posted on Reply
#3
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: BUCK NASTY
Ah, folding at it's best! This is what we do it for guy's!!!!

:toast::toast::toast:
I really wanted to add a poll to this, but I don't have the permissions on news threads. :(

I want to ask if TPU members want to start a project like this, much like we have F@H and WCG. I reckon it would rock. :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#4
Jegergrim
by: BUCK NASTY
Ah, folding at it's best! This is what we do it for guy's!!!!

:toast::toast::toast:
:D Things suchas this great achievement could bring alot new "gamers" into foldit, keep it up indeed
Posted on Reply
#5
m4gicfour
A much better way to access the untapped potential of human resource present in computer games than in-game ads.
Posted on Reply
#6
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: m4gicfour
A much better way to access the untapped potential of human resource present in computer games than in-game ads.
Oh god yes. Well put.
Posted on Reply
#7
D4S4
this means that some diseases could quite literally get PWNT. :nutkick:
Posted on Reply
#8
derwin75
Re:

I heard about this 2 days ago.....PC Gamers Rules!!!!!
Posted on Reply
#9
hat
Maximum Overclocker
So folding@home did indeed contribute to this, then?
Posted on Reply
#10
[H]@RD5TUFF
Now if only more people would get behind distributed computing think how much progress we could make.
Posted on Reply
#11
Mussels
Moderprator
this one wasnt actually folding@home, it was a game that got humans to do the same work via a 3D game instead of pure math.
Posted on Reply
#13
Delta6326
Foldit is so much fun, once I start I can't stop!
Posted on Reply
#14
DonInKansas
I wonder if they called AIDS ghey and a n00b after it was finished. :roll:
Posted on Reply
#15
Completely Bonkers
Ok, so now I have a valid reason to upgrade my gaming rig? All in the name of science...

DeresiaL, that is a very interesting (educational and inspiring) video http://www.newsytype.com/11536-aids-protein-foldit/. And welcome to TPU.

It is worth the 20minutes to watch that video. Get through the first 3 minutes where your first reaction might just be 'why is this lady wearing a silly dress and awful boots' and you will see she is a smart and interesting academic who has done some research into "gaming communities". Good stuff.
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