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September 2, 2006

SETI Grows Up, Gets Real Job
Science , Technology

    While your PS3 sits idle, Stanford's "Folding at Home" project plans to harness its processor to run simulations of protein folding. The results should lead the team of scientists closer to answers about curing Mad Cow disease, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, and certain cancers including hereditary emphysema.

    According to the Folding at Home web site:

    ...it takes about a day [for a computer] to simulate a nanosecond (1/1,000,000,000 of a second). Unfortunately, proteins fold on the tens of microsecond timescale (10,000 nanoseconds). Thus, it would take 10,000 CPU days to simulate folding -- i.e. it would take 30 CPU years!
    So, while you're at the office, sleeping, or a little bit of both, let your PS3 do something useful.

    And when you get home, you can use your controller to zoom around a 3D image of the protein you just rendered. (check out a sample screenshot) All it requires is downloading some free software, and you're ready to help save the human race through sheer absenteeism.

    To sweeten the pot, not only will this research cure the aforementioned horrifying battery of diseases, but "learning about how proteins fold will also teach us how to design our own protein-sized "nanomachines" to do similar tasks." Curing cancer AND making nanomachines? Sign me up!

    Download the screensaver version for Windows, Linux or OSX.

    Full Article: Folding at Home: PS3 FAQ

    (Via Gizmodo.)

    Cheeky Monkey

    Posted by MostlyForMe at September 2, 2006 8:10 PM