This morning I completed my work on a cure for Mad Cow disease. By noon I was working to find the cause of Hotchkins Lymphoma.
It’s True! I contribute by helping researchers fight diseases like Alzheimer’s and Hotchkins. It doesn’t take any money. It’s easy and costs nothing but a few CPU cycles. Anyone with a computer can do it.
Folding At Home, FAH, is a software program developed by Prof. Vijay Pande and a small scientific group at Stanford University in 2000. The folding lab is part of the departments of Chemistry and Structural Biology. It is designed to use your computer to virtually “fold” proteins.
Protein – A protein is a long chain of “joined together” amino acids. Protein folding is the natural process your body uses to fight disease, work your muscles and work your brain. They accomplish the many chemical reactions necessary for life, but they don’t like to stay stretched out in a straight line. They like to fold up to make a compact glob. The method of simulating this folding process can expose examples of protein folding gone wrong. It is these anomalies that point the way to the causes and cures for disease.
Here’s a quote from Professor Pande during an Interview with The Setup in October of 2011.
QUESTION: “Who are you, and what do you do?”
ANSWER: “I’m a professor of Chemistry, Structural Biology, and Computer Science at Stanford University and Director of its Biophysics Program, but I’m perhaps best known as the Director of the Folding@home Distributed Computing project. Folding@home brings together millions of computers throughout the world to perform calculations in biophysics and medicine that would otherwise be impossible.”
How to Get Started
Although the science behind folding is complex, the program is extremely simple to use. Simply download and install from here
I started by installing the program on my main computer and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the installation went. The program is designed to use only those extra resources that are not in use by you. I can leave it running while I work and there is no disruption what-so-ever. I did not notice any slowing of my system.
PC Pitstop Community Joins Forces
In addition to the good feelings, I get to help my fellow man. I joined the PC Pitstop Folding Team. It has been in existence as long as I can remember but in the past I was always involved with overclocking and quite honestly never had a computer together long enough to consider this. Also it’s been more recently that diseases like cancer and Alzheimer have hit closer to home. I’ve lost both my parents to cancer and my “step” parents are both suffering from severe memory issues and Alzheimer disease.
When I joined the team a couple of weeks ago, I found members that I’ve known from the forums that have been folding here for years. They have completed over half a million projects and that’s a lot. We are ranked 78th overall in team scores and everyone is working to increase that everyday. I get to enjoy the competition of folding for a team and comparing myself and my team to others doing the same thing.
Because I’m one that enjoys competition, I now have every computer in the house folding. Each morning I check my daily results and see how it’s going.
So far, I’m inching my way up through the long list of people who have started on my team before me. I never realized how many individuals and teams there were participating in this. It’s fun to watch my progress and the dogs appreciate the extra light from the monitors at night. Just joking, in fact once it’s started there is no reason to even have a monitor attached. Set it up using a monitor and then just unplug the monitor and let it run. You can see your progress daily from other computers so the monitor isn’t necessary. Judging from some of the points I see, there must be some people using upwards of 10 computers. Either that or their computers are way faster than mine.
This is certainly not the adrenalin rush of sky diving or shooting a 3″ cannon, but good enough for someone who wants to contribute a bit to their fellow man and have some fun doing it.
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