Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chemistry Research: Information Age Style

Folding@home is one of the world's largest "distributed computing projects" and is designed to perform computationally intensive simulations of protein folding and other molecular dynamics simulations. It was launched by Stanford University's Chemistry department in 2001 "to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases."

According to the listing in
Wikipedia, "Folding@home does not rely on powerful supercomputers for its data processing; instead, the primary contributors to the F@H project are many hundreds of thousands of personal computer users who have installed a small client program. The client will run in the background utilizing otherwise unused CPU power, or run as a screensaver only while the user is away."

To date, 50 scientific research papers have been published using the project's work, and there are about 200,000 participants worldwide (see map above, click to enlarge) who run software to collaborate and band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world.

Thanks to University of Michigan-Flint student Anna Stanczyk, who presented this to my Senior Honors Seminar class yesterday.

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