The hive mind

Photo: Scott Rettberg.

Medical researchers at UW want your help. Well, your computer’s help, anyway. The Rosetta@home project uses distributed computing – that is, sharing a complex computational task among many computers – to model complex protein structures, with an eye towards contributing to the development of treatments for diseases like malaria, cancer and AIDS. Pooled together, thousands of home computers running the program can exceed the capabilities of the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

Participants in the program download and install software, which then runs when their computers are not otherwise in use [details]. I haven’t joined Rosetta yet – my laptop is so stuffed full of [completely legal] music that it might not be able to handle any additional computational demands – but it’s just so cool that I had to share.

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