Friday, July 09, 2004

Metafold Unfolds its Purpose

Your computer's idle time is too precious to waste:
Put your computer to work advancing scientific knowledge when it's not helping you. Consider making use of that powerful computer you have, and let its idle time work on a huge math problem. Interested? So is Stanford University!

Distributed Computing:
Thousands of PCs have together are solving a long-standing biological puzzle: how a protein gets in shape. The technique may help tackle Alzheimer's and other diseases related to how proteins fold up into their functional form. "It's a big breakthrough," says protein structure researcher Michael Levitt, at Stanford. The hope is that in future, faster simulations could help explain Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeld Jacob diseases - where protein origami goes wrong.
This is know as distributed computing, and Google, the search engine, realizes the potential. Wonder why Google is involved?  Here is what Google has had to say on this topic.
 
Here is how this works:
You install the Google Toolbar, and it allows you to join in a worldwide computational math problem to benefit very real research at Stanford University on illnesses that impact our lives.
The math problems are too large for just one computer, so asking others to volunteer their computer time makes the research a reality. For instance, one work unit (an equation) may take a home computer 12 -72 hours or more to complete! But since so many around the world are volunteering, it gets the work done amazingly fast.

How does it work?
When your computer is idle, your computer will work on a math problem in the background, and points are added to a team for each problem solved. The team I started is called Metafold. This makes your idle computer useful while you don't need it. In the mean time, your computer works on folding protein equations for researchers at Stanford University.

What is Metafold?
Metafold was a name created for a team of PC users sharing a Google Compute username.  The team started as friends from different backgrounds, but all interested in computers and this topic.  The team (a common username) allows for a share of calculated results and thus they accrue work units as a group. Consequently, more work units are completed and scientific research increases. In turn, volunteering your computers idle time and teaming up with Metafold will help scientists solve complex problems. The team was started mostly for fun, although, it is fascinating to be included in the rather entertaining computer hardware paradigms which enable distributed computing, but the gripping reality of the results and potential has thrusted Metafold to been taken more seriously.

Why Google?
The very popular search engine, Google, has integrated the distributed computing feature into their Google Toolbar. The toolbar in itself has many cool features and pop-up blocking. This is a link to help explain why Google is involved.

Interested in helping out?

Please click here for installation instructions.
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Links and Further Reading

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Thank you for your interest!  I am very interested in your feedback.

Sincerely,

Kai
Team Metafold

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