Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SciFri: Folding@home

I recently found out about a free and exciting way we can all help fight disease, thanks to one of my favourite YouTubers, Linus Sebastian. For those of you that don’t know, Linus is usually most happy when building gaming computers or reviewing new hardware. Now I don’t own a gaming computer nor do I have any use for the associated hardware but I do like to be kept in the loop when it comes to technological goings on. The video in question involves Folding@home, a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics. To find out more, check out the video below.

So why is this important and how can I help I hear you ask. Folding@home essentially creates a huge supercomputer using idle CPU/GPU processing power to simulate the processes of protein folding and their movements. This is important as it can help us understand more about disease and how to better treat them, including COVID-19. The project usually involves other big killers such as cancer and Alzheimer’s so there is all the reason to sign up and get folding! The whole project brings together a community of citizen scientists who want to help by volunteering to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. I’ve been running simulations whilst I sleep, at the same time my own modelling runs so there is no disruption whatsoever to my daily life. Bear in mind that I’m running everything from my work laptop and I don’t want to overload it too much if I can help it.

The insights gathered from the data simulated by members of the online community can then be used to help scientists better understand disease biology. How cool is that? I’m aware that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) and other organisations that handle a lot of data also offer similar platforms for potential citizen scientists. Given the current pandemic, there isn’t a better time to put your idle computer processing power to a better use, you may be the key to finding a cure for COVID-19 faster than we would have otherwise. You can find out more by following the instructions in the video above, or by following this link.

It’s not much but it’s honest work

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