Stanford University started a distributed computing project titled Folding@Home. This project is designed to make use of the billions of unused CPU cycles every PC owner wastes while not using their PCs. This project allows researchers to model the ‘folding’ behavior of the proteins involved in every day biological functions. The end result of the research could contribute to cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, or schizophrenia.
Fueled by curiosity about distributed computing and personal interest in research regarding Alzheimer’s and similar diseases, I downloaded the client and started a team of friends and family contributing to the project. Our team name is the “P-Folders”, a small pun on classic funk band of the 70′s. If you choose to download the client, you may choose to join our team by entering team number 42511.
Why should I let others use my computer?
Here are just a handfull of reasons you might consider contributing your computer’s time. Visit http://folding.stanford.edu for more reasons.
- It’s a worthy cause. The results of the research may one day save lives and reduce suffering caused by protein misfolding. Among the diseases thought to be related to protein misfolding are: Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, BSE (Mad Cow disease)
- It’s free! Well almost. You have to have a computer with an internet connection. If you are reading this site, you likely already own one, and in that case it should be considered a sunk cost. Therefore the only cost of running the client is providing electricity. Since well over 95% of the power consumed by your computer eventually goes into heating your house, it is virtually free in the winter and incurs only a small overhead in the summer.
- The client draws really chemical models on your screen for you to impress your friends and family with.
- This is probably the easiest way to feel good about doing volunteer work. Just volunteer your computer!
How do I join?
Just go to http://folding.stanford.edu/download.html and download the client for your operating system. Then run the install program. When you are asked for a group, type in 42511 to join the ‘P-Folders.’ You can check our stats out here. Keep in mind we only start on Feb. 05, 2005, but we’re growing!