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Medicine Idle

Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure 149

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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  • 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.

  • 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

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant