Saturday, May 31, 2008

Foldit: Competitive Protein Folding

Most of us are familiar with the Fold@Home project that allows millions of computers to share spare computing cycles to solve protein folding problems. If your screensaver is not set to provide Fold@Home some spare computing cycle, you are not alone.
Move aside Celtics: enter the league of Competitive Protein Folding.

The idea behind David Baker's project, called FoldIt is to employ battalions of gamers to provide what an army of CPUs can't: smarts. Algorithms are great, but they can't match the puzzle-solving abilities of a person dead set on solving a problem. Baker would know a thing or two about algorithms. His research launched the Rosetta@Home project which employed distributed computing power to solve proteins.

I like the concept because it combines the flattening power of the internet, the elegance of distributed computing, and a really cool gaming interface. Watch the video.

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