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SiliconValley.com: PCs can use idle time to do research on proteins

Dec 08, 2000, 12:59 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Anne Rochell Konigsmark)

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"Here's an unusual want ad: People with personal computers needed to fold proteins. This exciting opportunity requires no skills and pays nothing. Perks: Groovy-looking screensaver and the satisfaction of contributing to an important scientific investigation."

"A team of Stanford researchers is using PCs from around the world to simulate proteins -- the building blocks of life -- folding or assembling into the three-dimensional shapes that make them work. Much like a University of California-Berkeley project called SETI@home that has millions of PCs searching for extraterrestrial life, Folding@home will do its work when the computers are idle."

"...Here's how Folding@home works: A person with a PC running Windows or Linux goes to the Folding@home Web site and downloads a free screensaver. The folding occurs when the computer is on but not in use, which is when screensavers in general are activated. Although the program works with some computers with a regular modem, it works best on computers with a broadband connection."

"The downloaded screensaver is not simply eye candy like flying toasters or a photo of Britney Spears; it shows the simulated protein folding and unfolding. In the case of one protein, this looks like a diagram of the Milky Way that turns into a multicolored, moving model of a chain of atoms."

Complete Story [Ed. Note: No screensaver for Linux, yet. They're working on it.]

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