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Computational Philanthropy – The World Community Grid

Written By: Martin Winer

Have you ever wondered what your computer does when you’re not there to provide it with stimulation? On Windows, it runs a process called the ‘System Idle Process’. Doesn’t sound very intellectually challenging does it? As far as an intellectual challenge, lets not flatter ourselves either: To our computers we move at the speed of molasses in winter.

Well what if your computer could be running software that benefited humanity in its ample spare time? That is precisely the task the World Community Grid offers your computer when you aren’t using it.

Currently, the World Community Grid is looking to dramatically shorten the Human Proteome Folding Project. This is a project that could take years even on the most powerful supercomputer. The answer is to take advantage of parallelization (using many computers at once) to dramatically shorten this computational time.

Many of us have heard of the Human Genome Project that recently completed a map of all human genes. In order for that information to be useful, scientists seek to understand how the proteins that those genes code for are formed in a process called protein folding. It is the shape of proteins that determine their bio-chemical properties. Knowledge of protein folding could, one day, be used in dramatic treatments of all diseases.

To contribute to this admirable task is quick and painless. Visit: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ and download the client program and within seconds your computer will be solving the problems of humanity.

Download? Download?! This word is sacrilege to many network administrators. Well you needn’t worry because IBM, ‘Big Blue’, has lent its name and resources to ensuring that this is a safe and reliable process.

Once downloaded, the client program will allow you to see the proteins currently being computed. In future, upon completion of the Human Proteome Folding project, the grid can be used for other challenging scientific problems. One likely candidate is signal processing for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program which required distributed computational power.

Gandhi once said: “life is full of seemingly inconsequential acts, but it is absolutely essential that we do them.” This seemingly small act may yield research that can improve the quality of life for all. Visit: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ and help contribute to scientific history.

About the Author

Martin Winer is a computer scientist developing: http://www.rankyouragent.com which is a forum for exchanging rankings of real estate professionals.

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