This beats running in one of those crazy marathons…

Apparently, folding proteins is rather difficult. Or at least, the computational simulation of protein folding is processor intensive. So this is a job that has been worked up into a system that allows regular people like you and me to participate in, using our home computer to take part in curing Alzheimers, Huntington’s Parkinsons, and everything.

Folding@home is a distributed computing project — people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer takes the project closer to our goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.

“Ah, so what?” you say. “Only a dork would do that.”

True. But what if you could fold proteins on your home computer AND kick some Christian Butt at the same time? Come on, I know you are a New Atheist annoyed as the rest of us at recent death threats and widespread cracker worship! Well, there is a way to have your cracker and eat it too…

It turns out that people who do this can form groups … or since this is protein folding, maybe we should cal it clots or something …. and in these groups compete with other groups. And one of these groups is the ultra cool “The Godless Ones.” Look here to see how they are doing. If you can figure out how to read their web site.

Well, the Godless Ones are asking for volunteers…

In addition to helping out humanity, users can join teams and compete against each other. Right now the highest ranking non-theist group, The Godless Ones, is on track to be overtaken by the highest-ranking Christian group, Nerds for Jesus. The deadline for our defeat keeps fluctuating between three and four weeks, but according to the Nerds for Jesus forum, their biggest contributor, Jesta, is about to add another computer lab full of computers to their team (he has access to a few of these labs, apparently). My team members and I have been petitioning forums and chat rooms, but so far have only managed to get about ten new folders, which has only slightly delayed our defeat.

We’d really appreciate it if you could direct some of your readers our way. Petty competition aside, it’s still a great way to help folks out without really doing anything. All anyone has to do is download, install, and run the client, enter team 34395, and use their computer like they always do. If they download the graphical version, it won’t run quite as fast, but they can use the simulation as a screensaver. If anyone owns a PS3, the software comes pre-installed, so all they need to do is enter our team number. If they really want to help, they can download the SMP beta client, but that’s only practical if they have a fairly new computer that’s left on most of the time. If you need any information, feel free to email me at…


  1. #1 Samia
    July 17, 2008

    Folding@Home is awesome, but I’m into FoldIt right now. 🙂 We should start a team!

  2. #2 Paladin
    July 17, 2008

    I’m glad you finally mentioned a distributed computing project, and i hope you’ll do so again. But you should know there are many others. For example, just for protein folding there are Rosetta, POEM, TANPAKU and others, that are trying to do (almost) the same thing as Folding, but using different algorithms.

    And there are a lot of other projects. Greg, If you still are interested in robot news, you’ll love Mindmodeling and Intelligence Realm, projects trying to create an AI.

    And a question for future articles: what is the most powerful computer in the world right now? Hint: it’s not Roadrunner or BlueGene/L.

  3. #3 Paladin
    July 17, 2008

    Oh, and the research results for most of these projects are/will be published under the GPL license, so that’s another plus.

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    July 17, 2008

    We dorks have been meaning to add ourselves and our PS3 to a team for a while now….

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    July 17, 2008

    I’ve actually avoided distributing comping projects because I’ve had less than great experiences with them. I don’t want to assume the current ones are problematic. I guess I fee that I want to know more about them before I recommend them or even discuss them at length. I’m starting to now with this thread.

    You can run this on a PS3?

    And to think, it runs on a PS3!!!

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    July 17, 2008

    Psst. Greg, read your own post. 🙂

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    July 17, 2008

    Oh, right. It just seems so unbelievable.

  8. #8 Paladin
    July 17, 2008

    On a PS3 system version 1.6 or later you can run Folding@home ‘out of the box’. There is also a BOINC project called PS3GRID that you can run if you have Linux installed on the console, or from a live USB pen drive that you can download from their website. Seems that the Cell chip is great for floating-point computations.

  9. #9 Samia
    July 17, 2008

    About the only cool thing about my last boyfriend was his PS3 and giant television. I’d muck around in Folding@home for quite a while just manipulating the proteins. It’s really a beautiful interface.

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    July 17, 2008

    But, Samia, did you play the latest Ratchet & Clank game? If not, you missed the full beauty of the system. 🙂

  11. #11 Mister Almost
    July 17, 2008

    @Paladin: Yes, yes it is. In fact the relatively small number of PS3s in the project are contributing more CPU cycles than any other system.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    July 17, 2008

    PS3’s FTW!!!!

  13. #13 Shake
    July 17, 2008

    As an update, that plea about Nerds for Jesus catching us is out of date. We’ve seen an explosion in membership and are now out-folding them by a greater than 2:1 margin. But that’s no reason to not come and still join the team! I’m just chugging away with home and work PCs.