Have you ever wanted to help out in understanding and perhaps even finding the cure to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Cancer, Parkinson's and others?
Well now you can.
folding@home is a distributed computing effort organized by a nonprofit institution affiliated with Standford University's Chemistry department. Protein folding is involved in very basic biological processes. If we understand these processes and mechanisms better then a cure could be possible. In order to do this, computer simulations are required. On the other hand, the se simulation requirements are beyond even most supercomputers. The trick is to pool together hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of Desktop, Laptop, and now even the Playstation3 to cut the problem down to size. Currently, the combined computer power of this network could very well be the most powerful floating point computing unit globally.
The results are will not be owned or sold but will be submitted to scientific journals and available to everyone.
How to contribute
You can read all about it at their webpage: http://folding.standford.edu/
What is required is your own machine and a piece of software download from their website. This software works on a piece of the problem whenever the computer has "spare time". When computations are completed - the results are uploaded back to the server at Stanford. On a fast PC each work unit will most probably take a couple of days. On the new Playstation 3 system this takes ~8-9 hours!!!. In the last couple of weeks, an add-in has been included to enable PS3 machines to help in on this. The PS3 can complete a job in a fraction of the required time of a PC. At this stage, roughly ~20k PS3 units have signed up and the combined computing power has already matched all the available PC units in the network - globally. If you have one of these unites - why not put it to good use when idle?
Join Team "Bacchus"
Computation of these problems can also be organized into "Teams" for identification purposes (combined computation time, work units etc...) If anybody cares, I have set up team "Bacchus" (Team #59314) on the server. Let's show people that wine lovers care too!