Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Would you like to play a new computer game and help scientists analyze protein chemistry — at the same time? Here is a fun and interesting computer puzzle game that is designed to fold proteins — the objective is to correctly fold a protein into the smallest possible space. This game, Foldit, which University of Washington biochemist David Baker helped create, is being played by thousands of people around the world. Baker is using Foldit to help him analyze the structure of proteins, because humans are a lot smarter at this than supercomputers. The results from this game are helping Baker and other scientists learn how to design proteins to do particular jobs, from vaccinating against malaria to fighting cancer. Below the fold is a tutorial, audio report and a link to this really fun game [3:45]

Okay, are you ready to give it a try? There’s beta versions of linux, mac and PC versions of Foldit that you can download and play.

Comments

  1. #1 Crystal D.
    March 21, 2009

    That is an amazing, and fun, idea!

  2. #2 Tabor
    March 21, 2009

    A little to complicated for the non-scientist such as I. When my biologist husband returns from gardening, I’ll see if he wants to give it a try.

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    March 21, 2009

    but tabor, you don’t need to be a scientist to “get it”! did you listen to the audio file? there’s a grandmother (with no scientific training) who is playing this game quite successfully!

  4. #4 Carrie Burrows
    March 22, 2009

    Have you heard of this?

    http://folding.stanford.edu/

    My family, friend, and I have been participating for a few years now.

  5. #5 Caleb
    March 23, 2009

    That is a different program, Carrie. It just uses your computer to brute force things – this program uses you.

  6. #6 Jaya
    April 10, 2009

    Hey, this news show did a whole page about citizen science projects, and foldit shows up on there, as well as another protein folding project that you just let your computer run. Pretty cool.

    http://www.thetakeaway.org/stories/2009/apr/09/slideshow-citizen-science-projects/

  7. #7 zamora
    May 22, 2009

    The game is still horribly imbalanced ATM. It’s severely biased towards casters, which I believe shouldn’t be in the game at all. This ultimately led to me unsubscribing from the game. I like how Craig has time and time again referred to the game being “group” balanced, but when he references pvp in relation to gear, he is clearly talking about 1 v 1. The game, its designers, and directors continue to contradict themselves. I won’t be resubbing unless there are some major class balance changes. Conan would be ashamed of this P.O.S.
    When you wake up in the morning you have the choice to achieve anything you want. Do not waste another do reading stupid web comments…get out there and live life!
    Zamora
    Warhammer Europe Gold

  8. #8 Renton Innes
    September 14, 2009

    I have been playing the fold.it game for over a year and it’s the best game I have ever played in my life !

    After playing endless online and offline games over the last 25 years, this IS without a doubt the most rewarding and intriguing game available, and it’s FREE !!!

    When you realise that the end result of your hard work after learning the tools(GUI) they give you to work with, YOUR PROTEIN DESIGN may be actually created for “REAL”; in a lab by scientists and that design you made may actually cure or help someone somewhere in the world…

    So you are no longer just playing a game, you have learnt how to possibly save a life or the lives of Real People by donating your spare time to the cause!

    Respectfully,

    Aotearoa ( player / user name )
    Auckland, New Zealand.

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