Wasting Time for a Good Cause


15 Responses to “Wasting Time for a Good Cause”

  1. CoquiELF says:

    Great article on this game, and some of the top players, in this month’s WIRED.


  2. ayasawada says:

    Great article Maggie, and thanks for the shout out. Kudo really goes to @zefrank and @marthasadie who first introduced me to Foldit.

    Another great crowdsourcing science game (though rather different) is being run by Signtific Lab


  3. stevew says:

    Tip of the hat to #1 and another plug for Folding@home. I’ve had 2 Macs and a PS3 Folding@home 24/7 for 2+ years. Stanford University is publishing peer reviewed scientific papers of their work with proteins and distributed computing. There are over 250k active cpus generating 4.7 petaflops of computational power.

  4. O says:

    Umm, otherwise great, but I can’t create an account as the input field doesn’t seem to accept alt+2 (@ in OSX) as a valid key combination. Also tried via the character palette, but no dice. Anybody else have this problem?

  5. JoshuaZ says:

    Luis von Ahn gave a Google Tech Talk about using games harnessing human computational power. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8246463980976635143&ei=Kpu0SJaLDJTy-wH55ICiDQ

    He’s approached things from a more or less systematic fashion and gotten some really fascinating results.

  6. teufelsdroch says:

    WOW this is a GREAT thread! I love and will use all these links.

    I’d also love to know how the folks at foldit are mining their data to find human-like solving strategies. I mean, are they just fitting some penalty parameter–or are particular sequences of changes being saved for use in other contexts–or something even cooler?

  7. Anonymous says:

    A small but important matter related to matter: oxygen and iron are not “molecules”. They are chemical elements.

    Proceed with folding…

  8. Anonymous says:


    Except, of course, for the fact that the word for O2 is actually “dioxygen”. I know that hardly anyone refers to O2 as “dioxygen” but the poster is a science writer and thus should value precision.

    And certainly including iron as a “molecule” is worse that imprecise. It’s just wrong.

    But let’s get back to our folding…

  9. Gilbert Wham says:

    #11: well, except when you get an O2 molecule, that is…

  10. Quothz says:

    This article deserves a mention of Folding@home, a peer-to-peer protein folding application. It’s a great way to do some good with your computer when it’d otherwise be idle. It’s at folding.stanford.edu.

  11. Hans says:

    Very cool idea. Although Wikipedia editing will always be my number one “wasting time for a good cause” activity.

  12. Gregory Bloom says:

    If you liked Crayon Physics Deluxe, you’ll go loopy over Armadillo Run.

  13. Cowtown2 says:

    Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.

  14. Darren Garrison says:

    I used folding@home 24/7 for years until I had a CPU– after years of use and no overclocking– simply stop working. I suspect that it was a victim of electromigration, and stopped running my CPUs at full load all the time ever since.


  15. Aotearoa says:

    Fantastic Article !

    I am Aotearoa, I have been folding protein via Fold.it for a long time now, perhaps 9 months.

    This is, without a doubt the most challenging, exciting, stimulating, intense, addictive game I have ever played, did I just say game? nah, this is life… Real life! stuff that effects real people and YOU could be the person who discovers the breakthrough of a lifetime, by playing it.

    I don’t have a science background or diplomas in anything, but that doesn’t matter playing this game because everyone is equal, you have to teach yourself or join a group to get support to learn.

    Beating the scientists at their own game always makes me laugh… technique wins the puzzles, learning the tools to Fold with and how the protein reacts to your touch will help ALOT.

    Intution and patience all come together when you try hard, for hours at times… and when you are alomst beaten or asleep and want to give up, you make the breakthrough and pass everyone else, doing and using the exact same tools as yourself, nothing feels better than watching them squirm or break.

    See you there.

    Renton aka player Aotearoa:
    Team Richard Dawkins Foundation

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