Friday, March 23, 2007

Folding at Home!

Do you want to make a difference?

From Staford University:

What is protein folding and how is folding linked to disease? Proteins are biology's workhorses -- its "nanomachines." Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or "fold." The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery.

Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

You can help by simply running a piece of software. Folding@Home is a distributed computing project -- people from through out the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer makes the project closer to our goals.

Folding@Home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems thousands to millions of times more challenging than previously achieved.

What have we done so far? We have had several successes. You can read about them on our Science page, Results section, or go directly to our press and papers page.

Want to learn more? Click on the links on the left for downloads or more information. You can also download our Executive Summary, which is a PDF suitable for distribution. Also, you can learn more by watching recent seminars (Stanford BMI ; Xerox PARC). One can also help by donating funds to the project, via Stanford University.
Even more impressive is the inclusion of the new PS3 gaming console!

Now in 2006, we are looking forward to another major advance in capabilities. This advance utilizes the new Cell processor in Sony’s PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) to achieve performance previously only possible on supercomputers. With this new technology (as well as new advances with GPUs), we will likely be able to attain performance on the 25 gigaflop scale per computer. With about 40,000 such machines, we would be able to achieve performance on the petaflop scale. With software from Sony, the PlayStation 3 will now be able to contribute to the Folding@Home project, pushing Folding@Home a major step forward.

Our goal is to apply this new technology to push Folding@Home into a new level of capabilities, applying our simulations to further study of protein folding and related diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington's Disease, and certain forms of cancer. With these computational advances, coupled with new simulation methodologies to harness the new techniques, we will be able to address questions previously considered impossible to tackle computationally, and make even greater impacts on our knowledge of folding and folding related diseases.


The PS3 client will also support some advanced visualization features. While the Cell microprocessor does most of the calculation processing of the simulation, the graphic chip of the PLAYSTATION 3 system (the RSX) displays the actual folding process in real-time using new technologies such as HDR and ISO surface rendering. It is possible to navigate the 3D space of the molecule using the interactive controller of the PS3, allowing us to look at the protein from different angles in real-time. For a preview of a prototype of the GUI for the PS3 client, check one of these videos ( 355K avi, 866K avi , 6MB avi , 6MB avi-- more videos and formats to come).
Pretty darn cool, I have downloaded my software for my PC, how about you? Got a kid with a ps3? It does not interfere with playing games, so you can help when it is not in use!