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  1. #1
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    Default Gaming for science

    Sorry if this is already posted, just got back from a road trip and didn't see it on the first page here.

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog...ed-scientists/

    AIDS research just took a big step forward, and you can thank gamers for that.

    Scientists had long been puzzled by the molecular structure of a protein-cutting enzyme classified as a “retroviral proteases” and found in an AIDS-like virus afflicting rhesus monkeys. The enzyme helps the virus spread, and it could hold a secret about how AIDS and other diseases are transmitted.

    A researcher at the UW thought it might help to crowd source the problem. Dr. Firas Khatib of the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry posted the dilemma on Foldit, an online game where players can collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules.

    Sure, that might not sound like much fun to the average Joe. But gamers on Foldit solved the puzzle in less than 10 days.

    “We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” said Khatib said in a prepared statement from UW.

    Humans, 1. Automated methods, 0.
    (Foldit) is designed so that players can manipulate virtual molecular structures that look like multicolored, curled-up Tinkertoy sets. The virtual molecules follow the same chemical rules that are obeyed by real molecules. When someone playing the game comes up with a more elegant structure that reflects a lower energy state for the molecule, his or her score goes up. If the structure requires more energy to maintain, or if it doesn’t reflect real-life chemistry, then the score is lower…

    The monkey-virus puzzle was one of several unsolved molecular mysteries that a colleague of Khatib’s at the university, Frank DiMaio, recently tried to solve using a method that took advantage of a protein-folding computer program called Rosetta. “This was one of the cases where his method wasn’t able to solve it,” Khatib said.
    Thought it was pretty cool
    Last edited by tehWise; 09-20-2011 at 18:41.

  2. #2
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    Wow this is interesting. Going to read the full article when I am home.
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  3. #3
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    reminds of that one episode of stargate where that fat dude that looks like Jason Biggs solved that puzzle then the military came to his door and beamed him up to a spaceship.

    Wonder if these gamers were beamed up to space also.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GirlyMan View Post
    reminds of that one episode of stargate where that fat dude that looks like Jason Biggs solved that puzzle then the military came to his door and beamed him up to a spaceship.

    Wonder if these gamers were beamed up to space also.
    Ely Wallace. I spend way too much time watching tv.

    PS: on the subject, geeks have ruled the world for a while now, what did you expect?
    Last edited by Ragnarok Delrhe; 09-20-2011 at 20:01.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnarok Delrhe View Post
    Ely Wallace. I spend way too much time watching tv.

    PS: on the subject, geeks have ruled the world for a while now, what did you expect?
    Yeah, I just think it's an amazing concept to incorporate real life physics into a game to solve RL issues, at the molecular level.

  6. #6
    11,000+ Death's Chill's Avatar
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    It's awesome, but not that surprising. You give people the tools, and hand them to countless thousands if not millions of people who actively engage their minds everyday. What do you expect? We can solve almost anything if we enjoy working on it.


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