Thursday, December 3, 2009

Science Gets a Helping Hand

Here's an interesting bit of collectively creative coolness: FoldIt is a site where users play a puzzle game that can help advance medicine. The goal of the site is to see if humans, with their intuitive reasoning and problem-solving skills can fold proteins more efficiently than a computer. If it turns out they can, the organizers want to teach this kind of thinking to computers to finish the job.

From the site:
The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans' puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.

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