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Medicine Idle

Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-that-tetris-paying-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade. The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, they called in the Foldit players. The scientists challenged the gamers to produce an accurate model of the enzyme. They did it in only three weeks."
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Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure

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  • Avoid SGC (Score:1, Offtopic)

    If Stargate Command comes to your door recruiting, best bet is to politely turn them down.

    • by Sasayaki (1096761)

      That didn't work so well for Eli Wallas [wikipedia.org], did it?

      • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:10PM (#37437588) Homepage Journal

        What scares me is that a character from a freaking TV show has a far better, more fleshed out Wikipedia article than many (most?) prominent scientists. Not to mention other worthwhile people.

        • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sasayaki (1096761) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:29PM (#37437680)

          You've obviously never heard about Wikipedia's Poke'mon problem. At one stage, there was more about Poke'mon (as in, a ludicrously large amount more) on Wikipedia than there was about World War II.

          Hence the creation of Bulbapedia. The Poke'mon Problem probably still holds though.

          • by Ambvai (1106941)

            Alt-0233, at least on a standard US Windows installation, yields "é". ...Yeeeah, I actually know that offhand.

            Just a hunch, but I'm willing to bet there's a lot more people technologically-capable people interested in Pokémon than WWII though.

          • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:5, Insightful)

            by vadim_t (324782) on Monday September 19, 2011 @12:31AM (#37437886) Homepage

            Which isn't really a problem, in my opinion.

            Wikipedia isn't limited by space and volunteer driven. If somebody currently wants to write about Pokemon, then they will try to write about Pokemon. If you insist on interferring with that attempt, then you're likely to seriously cause a bad impression to somebody who's trying to make a honest, if not very important contribution.

            As a result, they get fed up and leave, maybe for Bulbapedia, instead of sticking around, and maybe writing on something a bit more important next time. After all, Wikipedia isn't a job, and you can't command people like that there.

            The mentality of that some not very important articles are too long is IMO a big problem. Because there has to be something silly and harmless to get a new contributor started. Pokemon is probably one of the best first starting subjects, because it's easy to contribute on it: there's lots of info that can be contributed, and it's well documented outside on WP.

            In comparison starting from trying to contribute on the page of Pasteur will be like walking into a battlefield. You'll quickly need to start discussing medical literature, and that's not really easy for most people. Somebody with a real interest might get into that, but most likely only after getting practice on something else, just like coders don't get started by contributing to the Linux kernel.

            IMO that's why Wikipedia is losing contributors. If you actively reject attempts to contribute in the easiest places, then smack people in the face with huge amounts of WP: regulation in other places, then very few people are going to be willing to stick around.

            • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:4, Insightful)

              by seanvaandering (604658) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {gnirednaav.naes}> on Monday September 19, 2011 @04:11AM (#37438628)
              Exactly.... and that's why after modifying and cleaning up hundred upon hundreds of pages, only to see my revisions reversed by a bot no less, is why I stopped contributing years ago to Wikipedia. Now my time is spent playing mindless games on Facebook to pass the time - oh well. The "thou shalt" attitude doesn't help either. Admins need to learn to be subservient and teach rather than dictate.

              Oh well, clearly they are doing just fine without me - won't even miss it if they disappeared tommorow. Seriously.
              • by Anonymous Coward

                You're misguided then. If your edits were reverted by a bot that's not because someone decided that the topic was not worth to appear at Wikipedia, it was because they were of such low quality that a Bayesian network decided that they looked like spam or random vandalism.

                WP bots don't revert based on the subject; they look for misspellings, short incoherent babbling, unexplainded short edits and deletion of whole paragraphs. If your edits did belong to one of those classes, any human reviewer would have del

            • by roman_mir (125474)

              I gave up on wikipedia, there is no way to make it into a truly useful tool.

              Here is history of a comment I was making as an example, [wikipedia.org] this is more of a public announcement about a pump and dump scheme that is in process. SEC is notified, they are doing absolutely nothing about it, they don't care.

              You think SEC cares about retail investors who are being destroyed by pump and dumps schemes? You think SEC cared about Madoff?

              But you can't leave a comment on wikipedia, where it could REALLY be useful to people, w

              • by arnott (789715)
                Well, if you want post your opinion [wikipedia.org] (which may be correct):

                Attention: SEC is ignoring all signs of Jonathan Lebed pumping and dumping Agria Corp (GRO) and Mega Precious Metals (MGP:CN) stock, which has been going on since May of 2011 and is still continuing in September of 2011 through his current company 'NIA' (National Inflation Association), even though SEC was given this information. The pump and dump is in progress and has been for a number of months right now. NIA touts penny stock Mega Precious Metals based solely on its "inferred" 1.2 million ounces of gold. (See external links).

                you need to use your own blog, or something like dailykos.

            • by dannys42 (61725)

              In addition to your points, it also raises the issue of what is "important." Pokemon for better or worse is a big part of our culture, as are celebrities, The Simpsons, and Seinfeld. Wikipedia's job shouldn't be to rewrite what we think we should be.... it should be to document what we are. And there shouldn't be a limit to the amount of information, only that information is as factual as we can get it. But that's just my opinion.

          • It was only a couple of years ago that the anime fans lost their last stand, and the "crucifixion in anime" section was removed from the "crucifixion" article. I did a whole long post detailing the event but I can't find it now :-(

            (actually searching back in my emails, I found myself saying I can't find it again, around March this year. D'oh! )

          • by Duradin (1261418)

            If I want detailed information on WWII there are books and real encyclopedias that have it covered.

            If I want detailed information on "popular culture" items, I used to look to wikipedia, specifically because there was a page for every pokemon and other obscure things.

            Up until The Great Webcomic Purge I though WP was a cool project, now it's just a faster information source than google.

        • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:52PM (#37437762)
          Everything that those scientists or their contemporaries might post to Wikipedia would be deleted because it would be first-hand knowledge. How dare someone who actually *knows* the people in question try to edit the bios; they're not Wikipedia insiders!
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          So? In more important news, most celebrities (including many that are famous for being stupid, mean, drug addicts etc.) are better paid and better known than most (all?) prominent scientists. Not to mention other worthwhile people.

        • It's a bit worse than that. The page for Till Tantau [wikipedia.org], a professor and the creator of TikZ and Blender got deleted because he is not "notable enough".
        • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:4, Insightful)

          by HuguesT (84078) on Monday September 19, 2011 @03:10AM (#37438466)

          Because

          1- the lives of real people, including scientists, are private, whereas that of a fictional character are all open to anybody to summarize, analyze and discuss
          2- the achievements of real people are sometimes controversial. Who could say with certainty that Cooley and Tukey invented the FFT, while it was used by Gauss in his astronomy work to speed up his calculation, but thought it unimportant enough to report compared to his number theory work? That itself may be controversial. Science is littered with misappropriated credit. For instance George Dantzig did not invent the first solution the the LP problem. Fourier knew about it ; people in the Soviet Union were using it before WWII. Hence writing about real people, particularly scientists, is hard.
          3- There are far far far fewer people interested in the life of non-glamorous people than even minor fictional characters.
          4- Who cares? People write about what they want in wikipedia. Someone writing on stargate does not prevent someone else writing on Paul Dirac.

          • 2- the achievements of real people are sometimes controversial. Who could say with certainty that Cooley and Tukey invented the FFT, while it was used by Gauss in his astronomy work to speed up his calculation, but thought it unimportant enough to report compared to his number theory work? That itself may be controversial. Science is littered with misappropriated credit. For instance George Dantzig did not invent the first solution the the LP problem. Fourier knew about it ; people in the Soviet Union were using it before WWII. Hence writing about real people, particularly scientists, is hard.

            This also applies to fictional people. Did Han shoot Greedo in cold blood or was it self defense? ;)

        • by Fned (43219)

          Everything about the TV character is public knowledge.

          Actual scientists, not so much. In fact, if someone posted a bio containing that kind of detail about, say, me, on Wikipedia, and I hadn't published it in an autobiography or something, I'd be downright creeped the fuck out.

      • That didn't work so well for Eli Wallas, did it?

        Well, I guess I can throw away the DVDs of Stargate Universe I was saving up for Christmas vacation.

        Next time, how 'bout a little spoiler alert, yeah?

        • by omglolbah (731566)

          The first blurb on the wikipedia article spoils about the first 20 minutes of the pilot. That is all.....

          Hardly a spoiler for a 2-season show :p

        • by tycoex (1832784)

          Just re-watch SG1... don't torment yourself with SGU.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Kind of reminds me of "Ender's Game". #### SPOILER ALERT ####

      . The only way to beat the buggers was to have a kid think he was playing a game. I thought it was pretty obvious conclusion, and wasn't the least bit surprised by the ending. Anyway, I think that this just signifies that we aren't anywhere close to AI yet, and that we don't even understand how smart we really are, compared to machines.
      • Really has to do with what you mean by AI. If you mean general reasoning machine, no we're not anywhere close.

        If you are talking about solving certain domains of knowledge, AI is around us every day and doing very well! Jeopardy playing, chess solving, spam classifying, robot vacuuming, voice recognition, etc., are all some of the more visible expressions of AI.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          The Jeopardy thing was the only machine which actually looked like AI to me. Chess is just brute force calcuation. Spam is simple pattern matching, Vacuuming is a highschool science project, and Voice recognition is so bad in most cases that it is laughable. Even Watson (I believe the name of the Jeopardy computer) didn't use voice recognition, but rather read the clues using a camera as voice recognition is so flakey, even at the level that Watson was operating at. Although Watson was pretty impressiv
          • Like I said, it completely depends on what your expectation of AI is.

            I also think you're completely wrong in your characterizations of some of these technologies. If, for example, Roombas and the Roomba AI are just a "highschool science project" it just goes to show how far along robotics has come and what we take for granted in terms of autonomous capabilities. Voice recognition is hugely improved and a common features on cars and cell phones. Plenty of people fail at basic things like what country is XYZ

            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              Computers have always been able to beat people at chess. Probably was, is that nobody wanted to wait 6 weeks for the computer to make it's next move. Computers finally got fast enough that they could beat people in a regularly paced game of chess. But I don't think this was anything to do with actually having AI. I'll be convinced when somebody can write a program that can do the same without massive amounts of processing power. Maybe the limitation should be along the lines of, only uses as much energy
    • by russotto (537200)
      Also do not play "The Bishop of Battle".
    • by nbetcher (973062)

      If Stargate Command comes to your door recruiting, best bet is to politely turn them down.

      (This comment is in regards to the first episode of Stargate Universe, in the event that you're curious.)

    • Showing my age, but The Last Starfighter [imdb.com] also came to mind. Can anyone think of an earlier instance of video game talent scouting in sci-fi?

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      If Stargate Command comes to your door recruiting, best bet is to politely turn them down.

      Might be a better idea to accept with the proviso that you're allowed to pack several changes of clothes.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      I'd rather run into them than get a visit from Centauri [wikipedia.org] any day of the week. I mean I like a challenge, but a gung ho iguana and one fighter against an entire armada? There is a challenge and then there is suicidal.

      As for TFA, were they surprised? Humans looooove puzzles and if you can make a problem into a puzzle game you'll have plenty of folks lining up to work on your "game". I think they should be really pushing this along with the "at home" GPU programs as you'd be surprised at how many people out th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

    • by russotto (537200)

      I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

      Yep. Unfortunately for the researchers, I've already patented the business model of
      1) Create mapping of task to game
      2) Get suckers to play game
      3) Map winning game solutions to task solutions
      4) Profit

      This is distinguished from "Ender's Game" by the presence of Step 3. It is distinguished from the standard slashdot business plan by the lack of "???".

    • I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

      You do realize that the structure on its own doesn't generate royalties, right? Knowing the structure is just one step towards developing new treatments. The gamers didn't do the simulations for ligand binding and enzymatic activity; they just did the work for the static structure.

      What you're calling for is like saying we should name planets after the first people who looked at them, because they knew they were there even though they didn't know anything else about them.

      • What you're calling for is like saying we should name planets after the first people who looked at them, because they knew they were there even though they didn't know anything else about them.

        I take that back, that was a crappy analogy. After all, in this situation all the gamers did was offer up CPU time towards solving the protein folding problem for this specific enzyme. They didn't even look at anything, really. They didn't even necessarily have any idea what they were actually doing with their spare CPU cycles in the grand scheme of things.

        Really, the notion that they should be compensated for what they voluntarily donated is worse than suggesting that any Nobel Prize for which an acc

        • Re:Crappy analogy (Score:5, Informative)

          by nadaou (535365) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:47PM (#37437744) Homepage

          After all, in this situation all the gamers did was offer up CPU time towards solving the protein folding problem for this specific enzyme. They didn't even look at anything, really.

          Your understanding of it is rather mistaken, please download the game and try it for yourself.

          FoldIt is not a distributed number crunching @Home variant where a screensaver uses your CPU cycles to help with a massive parallel calculation because the upstream researchers can't afford a personal super computer.

          FoldIt is an interactive 3D puzzle game (like what Bill the Cat's version of a Rubic's Cube would be like) where many human brains attack a problem, not their computers. The scientists already have super computers but they aren't much help in this class of problem, where human reasoning really shines.

          According to TFA, the gamers are named as co-authors on the write-up in a highly prestigious journal, which is very nice kudos indeed.

          • According to TFA, the gamers are named as co-authors on the write-up in a highly prestigious journal, which is very nice kudos indeed.

            Yes, I suspect F@H players are like OSS contributors at heart, they enjoy a puzzle and just want a bit of recognition when they're the first to solve it.

      • by Jaazaniah (894694)

        When was the last time you read a patent for a chemical or biological agent? The substance itself is just a valid a claim under the patent as the process that created it. US Classification 200/157.68 (definition) [uspto.gov] is one of the classes the resulting patent could land in if the process involves microwave energy.

        If the person(s) who solved this challenge realize this, a landmark legal battle over crowd-sourcing for patent-eligible materials could be on the verge of happening.

        Conventional wisdom is also called

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Not necessarily. It's more or less inevitable. The more education one has, the more difficulty one typically has in seeing solutions that don't come from that view of the world.

          Somebody that's studied statistics and probability theory is probably not going to do very well playing poker for long periods of time because the knowledge from those areas tell that person that the odds don't change over time. The problem is that ultimately they do, the human component of the game does get tired, does make mistakes

          • However, if the players are figuring out how to use the results, that would be incredibly embarrassing.

            The players would have to be molecular biochemists (or similar) to figure out how to use the resulting structure, and the researchers have already started figuring out how to use it. They may identify a site on the surface for which they can create a compound that will attach and block the enzyme.

            This is all very difficult, and that would be an astounding achievement, but there is nothing embarrassing abou

        • The problem was solved within the context of a university driven research project (Foldit) which was geared towards finding out if humans could be more efficient then computer algorithms in finding protein folding solutions. Gamification in action but this isn't breaking any research paradigms.

          This just goes to confirm what that project already discovered though: that humans are still somewhat better at this type of problem solving then computers, with the postulated reason being that we're much more resist

          • by TapeCutter (624760)
            I'm not a grammar Nazi, my prose is often full of it's/its and your/you're mistakes. So before someone calls you an idiot for a simple syntax error I would just like to point out you have made the then/than mistake twice as in "more efficient then computers" and "better at this type of problem solving then computers".
          • by the gnat (153162)

            The problem was solved within the context of a university driven research project (Foldit) which was geared towards finding out if humans could be more efficient then computer algorithms in finding protein folding solutions. Gamification in action but this isn't breaking any research paradigms.

            Correct. Also, the reason why researchers didn't figure out the structure entirely on their own is not because they're dumb or closed-minded, but because manually fiddling with protein structures like this is very ti

            • An equally valid reason, and one that supports the fact that they used gamers, is they may not have been able to do it. Being intelligent and solving s/t problems aren't synonymous.
        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          Well it's easy, the answer is of course Cesiumfrancolithic Myxialobidiumrixydixydoxhidexidroxhide [youtube.com]. Pay me.
    • If I was one of those gamers and I got patent royalties I'd feel awful about myself.

      Solving this problem was a one-time effort. Would I accept a nice one-time reward for it? Yes. Would I want sick people around the world to have to pay me a little money every time they use the drug? No.

    • by Nox3173 (1495587)

      I don't even understand patent law in the first place. Between patent laws and corporations that patent shit someone else worked on I think the whole system has gone off the rails. You shouldn't even be able to patent things that already exist in nature. You didn't invent it, you just figured out how it worked. In this case, the company that got the patent didn't even do the figuring out.

      I believe in projects like foldit - the more people working on a problem, the better chances we have of solving it, b

  • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @10:55PM (#37437536) Homepage Journal

    There is no substitute for human ingenuity, which is captured by crowd sourcing. Kudos to whoever managed to make folding protein structures entertaining enough to capture the interest of enough people to make it feasible. :)

    • by Jaazaniah (894694)
      I couldn't agree more. Perhaps this approach would bring about the next few waves of major advancements in other fields that have been stuck for decades.
      • Perhaps this approach would bring about the next few waves of major advancements in other fields , such as videogames...

        • by Toonol (1057698)
          So, if there was a game where the gameplay consisted of revising and improving its own gameplay...

          That would recursively loop until it collapsed society. We better not do that.
          • by Fned (43219)

            They have this already, it's called "being a human being in real life."

            The only problem is all these fucking noobs and griefers. Kicking them from the game is a bannable offense, for some reason.

    • by ralphdaugherty (225648) <ralph@ee.net> on Monday September 19, 2011 @01:02AM (#37437984) Homepage

      Several items to note on this:

      - kudos to researchers for bringing in gamers to gain some understanding on solving tghis problem

      - kudos to the FoldIt programmers for making this 3D structure puzzle a solvable problem. They also constantly refined the puzzle based on feedback from the gamers.

      - Not mentioned so far is the incredible importance of finding a workable structure to the retroviral protease enzyme, and that the researchers noted the structure may provide the opportunity to be blocked. If so that would appear to this layman of a nearly universal cure for viruses that insert DNA into chromosomes. I may be overstating that but I don't think it's limited to AIDS.

      - There are many other puzzles to be solved for cellular components from what I read. This is clearly one of utmost importance, but I imagine there are others to solve now.

      - This reminds me from what I read of the widespread efforts of laymen participation in solving important mathematical puzzles in the 1500's to 1800's.

      - I don't know about this having a real useful impact to primary education, other than wow interest factor, but seems to be something that could be ongoing challenges, real "games" to solve if you will, for some time to come. There are innumerable puzzles to be solved at this level.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:22PM (#37437650)
    TFA

    According to Popovic, “Foldit shows that a game can turn novices into domain experts capable of producing first-class scientific discoveries. We are currently applying the same approach to change the way math and science are taught in school.

    On the "just kidding" track: if that could happen, I wonder how the exams will look like? Will they resemble a FPS [wikipedia.org]?

    • by lorenlal (164133)

      I'd say the first step would be a more realistic gravity pull in Tank Command.

    • by Rizimar (1986164)
      In order to pass your Math final, you must defeat me, John Romero!
    • by hedwards (940851)

      I thought we were trying to eliminate the FPS aspect of schooling and make it more of a RPG or possibly puzzle game.

      • make it more of a RPG or possibly puzzle game.

        Oh, so that's why Pocoyo is playing with tetrominoes at the start of each episode: Tetris is his preschool homework.

      • Yeah; there are too many complaints of students camping at a drop point. Work is in place to help them increase their INT and DEX, and to complete class projects as parties with varied strengths. Of course, there's a large debate about how to increase WIS and how Mana should be used.

        Personally, I remember school being a puzzle game... attempting to put all the pieces in the right place before the time ran out.

  • FPS Crowdsourcing - Build better drone logic, add some humanoid bots, build massive skilled army!
    RTS Crowdsourcing - Solve the whole 'nationalism and dick waving' contest one civ game at a time!
    Racing Games Crowdsourcing - Design better robot drivers and automate all vehicles, lower traffic fatalities!
    Angry Birds Crowdsourcing - Design better projectile systems for the military!
    Farmville Crowdsourcing - Make the people that partake in this one play until they die from starvation, eliminating half the 1st world population and donating their wealth to people who are actually starving!!!! (Reverse logic on this one)
    • Farmville Crowdsourcing - Make the people that partake in this one play until they die from starvation, eliminating half the 1st world population and donating their wealth to people who are actually starving!!!! (Reverse logic on this one)

      WIN!!! - That Reverse logic pure genius. Almost as good as the foldit game

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday September 19, 2011 @12:45AM (#37437940)
    I "played" this for several months after it first came out. Was reasonably good, not one of the top players but often in the top 30 to 100. Stopped after they added an awful and intolerable music score to it, and gave no way to disable the music. Muting the entire computer wasn't a real option, both because other sound effects made by the "game" were important feedback and because muting would impact other things running on the same computer. Multiple requests to give an option to disable the music (or other alternatives like just removing it) were completely ignored without response. Knowing that if I listened to the "music" any longer I was likely to start killing people, I decided it was prudent to stop running the program. So my question is have they fixed the "music" yet and who decided it was important to force their music choice on all folders rather than just let us run our choice of music players and music on our computers if we wanted music.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 19, 2011 @01:32AM (#37438080)

      They have. There's a general options button and within that you can turn off the music and/or sound effects

      • Thanks for the information. Shame that they didn't bother to respond to those who complained and asked for this, not even bothering to send an e-mail to those who complained of it after they made the fix. I haven't been folding in several years now, not sure if I want to start over again after all this lost time
        • Quit your whining. They have X number of people, and I'd rather they develop software for protein folding than email back individual people who complained about things probably already on a to-do list. For most software projects I'd consider my response a little harsh, but you're advocating an approach where resources used to CURE AIDS are being diverted to "not offending trovingslosh". The least you can do is forgive them, discard your own pettiness, and re-harness your natural ability to spend your gaming

          • Wow. Just stop and listen to yourself. You are a hypocritical asshole.

          • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday September 19, 2011 @06:16AM (#37438994)

            Wow, "quit your whining". You think they should treat their users any way they please because they are trying to cure Aids. I'm surprised that you didn't throw in a "think of the children" line too

            My point isn't about "not offending trovingslosh", but rather about developers who set up feedback systems but can't be bothered to even give a courtesy response when sincere suggestions, even pleas, are made. If I had received even a simple "yea, we will add a choice to disable the "music" when we can get to it, I would have tried to wait it out, or at least checked occasionally to see if they got around to making the fix and I could go back to folding without the torture. I should mention that I did stick it out for over a month, maybe three, with less use and eventually just checking in to see if things were fixed, before I decided that what should have been a very simple UI change wasn't likely to happen. There were many other changes and updates in that time. So you see it as a waste of their time to bother to respond to the feedback system that they created. I see it as a waste of volunteer manpower to ignore the feedback that they solicited, and arrogance on the part of the developers to think that everyone should have to listen to the developer's own choice of "music" when freely giving their time to a scientific application that really had no good reason to insist on playing music in the first place. I doubt very much if I'm the only one that was offended and driven away, both by the sound and by the apathy of the developers for the input of the volunteer users contributing their time.

            Thanks, you've helped me make up my mind. I wasn't thrilled about restarting and trying to work up in rank past a quarter million users, but I realize now that it isn't just that, it's having volunteered my time and work for a group that didn't have the common courtesy to respond to very valid feedback. I feel good now about deciding not to go back.

            • And this is why courting gamers to do good for humanity is always going to be a flaky prospect.

            • by Sakse (10168)

              It sounds like you mix up 'not treating you' with 'treating you any way they please'.

              By that I mean that what you see as 'poor treatment' could as well be seen as 'no capacity to respond'.

              I was going to write something here on how 'real' game companies treat forums and tasks spawned from forums, but really. There is no point.
              If a "quit your whining"-post was enough to prevent you from rejoining FoldIt, then I don't believe it was really ever an option. Maybe you were in it because of the social hooks and th

            • by openfrog (897716)

              I was also shocked by the 'Stop your whining' line you have been served with your previous comment. Your are making a valid point underlining the importance of users' feedback.

              However, I feel that in your response, you get carried over perhaps more by your taking offense of the above line than by the behavior of the Fold-it team. I even read a pinch of regret in your choice of words. What you want to condemn after all is not the idea that brought about a brilliant scientific accomplishment, but the negligen

    • If you're using windows, you can open up the volume mixer, and adjust the sound for every individual application there.

      Mute the program from that menu, and you're golden.

  • Kudos to the gamers.

  • What makes the Pokemon enzyme works? A mythical particles called slashdotters pokemones offtopicus.
  • because it's a good bonding experience.

  • When I first heard of Foldit I really hoped that something would come of it. I thought that if their models were correct that it could be a great tool, and it looks like it is.

  • Old hat. They did this ages ago on Stargate Universe :P
  • Harness the power of obsessive gamers around the world! Seriously, Starcraft 2 alone is already almost a national sport in some Asian countries.

    Now the programmers have to take Foldit to the next level: Cancer Wars! Whomever creates the best omni-purpose cancer fighter that doesn't blow apart the landscape(human body) wins!

    And after that? Virus Cataclysm -- the viruses are invading and YOU are your body's last hope!

    Maybe even: Reconstructors -- the body is failing and it's up to the player to restore it as

    • There was a US economy/world simulator.
      I forgot the name though.

      The easiest way to make progress in the game was to forgo any military for 4 years or so, and invest the money in the economy. After that you could literally bribe Cuba and whatever small nation you wanted to make them like you.

      Such an on and off control is unlikely to happen in real life.

      • There are actually quite a few games of that sort. Superpower 1 and 2, Supreme Ruler (2010, 2020, and Cold War), Victoria (1 and 2, although not surprisingly this of the Victorian Age than the modern world), and probably many others I've never heard of. It's a niche, but not exactly an empty one.
  • I've heard the protein folding problem is quite likely NPC. How can people with slow brains outperform the best algorithms and computers of our day?
    • Because we see patterns where there are none. Weird right?
    • The human brain is absurdly faster/more powerful than even the largest computers today. Admittedly, we are getting closer to the point where the two will meet, but it is still decades away by most estimates.

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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