Gamers Can Now Help Stanford University Researchers with the “Folding@Home” Project
Now you can help fight cancer simply by playing video games from the comfort of your own home. Researchers at Stanford University have teamed up with Sony Computer Entertainment America, the makers of PlayStation, on the “Folding@Home” project. Folding@Home helps researchers study the folding, and more important, misfolding of human proteins, which can lead to understanding the cause and cure of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cystic fibrosis.
In order to study protein folding, researchers need more than just one super computer, but the massive processing power of thousands of networked computers. Previously, PCs have been the only option for scientists studying this, but now, they have a new, more powerful tool—PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3). The PS3’s cell processor is about 20 times faster at folding than a standard PC, giving even greater results in real time, allowing scientists to not only see but navigate the molecule in 3D.
To take part voluntarily, gamers just need to click on the Folding@Home icon within the main menu of the PS3. Then whenever their game system is idle, it will automatically begin the real-time simulations and the PS3’s graphic chip actually allows you to watch the process first hand. You can even manipulate and study the protein strand yourself.