Did you know that gamers may have solved one of the toughest riddles in finding the cure for AIDS?
Yeah, it is true. A bunch of computer gamers with nothing but leisure time on their hands have solved something that had top researchers in the scientific field stumped for many years.
At the beginning of the story, there is a tiny little molecule of protein. These protein molecules are the building blocks of an organism’s DNA and therefore understanding how the DNA gets structured in the real world, that is in 3D, would go a long way in understanding this process in more detail and, in the case of viruses and such, find better cures and vaccines.
Here is where the game called Foldit came into picture. Under the project called ‘Solve Puzzles For Science’, Foldit’s objective is straight forward. The players must arrange or ‘fold’ protein molecules into a functioning 3D model. The players manipulate simple protein-like structures and get scores based on that. The application displays a graphical representation of the protein’s structure which the user is able to manipulate using a set of tools.
In ten days, the online gamers were able to solve a problem that, according to Wikipedia, “had thwarted scientists for 15 years”. This protein, that got solved and confirmed by x-ray crystallography, produced AIDS in rhesus monkeys. Scientists say this puts them that much closer to finding an effective cure for this disease.
More games with scientific and medical purposes are being conducted within Solve Puzzles For Science Project, which can only mean more awesomeness from the world of gamers.
For years video games have been vilified, wrongfully, as rotting our brains. Parents have been chiding their children away from computer screens and consoles saying that they are wasting their precious time. Many adults give derisive looks when someone lists video games as part of their leisure activity. I hope you all learned a lesson today.
Hopefully this stops the wide spread discrimination of gamers everywhere and, one hopes, that may be Microsoft will reduce Xbox Gold subscription prices.
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I am on a blog-a-day-for-a-year crusade. Keep me motivated with your comments. Or make the days go slower.