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Gaming for a Cure: Computer Gamers Tackle Protein Folding

Thanks to TheRationalizer for the link.
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Biochemists and computer scientists at the University of Washington two years ago launched an ambitious project harnessing the brainpower of computer gamers to solve medical problems.

The game, Foldit, turns one of the hardest problems in molecular biology into a game a bit reminiscent of Tetris. Thousands of people have now played a game that asks them to fold a protein rather than stack colored blocks or rescue a princess.

Results published Aug. 5 in the journal Nature show that Foldit is a success. It turns out that people can, indeed, compete with supercomputers in this arena. Analysis shows that players bested the computers on problems that required radical moves, risks and long-term vision -- the kinds of qualities that computers do not possess.

"People in the scientific community have known about Foldit for a while, and everybody thought it was a great idea, but the really fundamental question in most scientists' minds was 'What can it produce in terms of results? Is there any evidence that it's doing something useful?'"said principal investigator Zoran Popović, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering.
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TAGGED: BIOLOGY, TECHNOLOGY


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