We are continually surrounding ourselves at an exponential rate with processing power. Every new gadget it seems is processor based, and deemed ‘smart’ in some fashion.
One of the most obvious of these items are our cellphones. A cellphone today has – in a single compact unit – replaced what would have required multiple devices as recently as a few years ago!
This is one piece of hardware that I make work for me. In those 14hrs (more, most of the time unfortunately) that I’m awake, I am constantly using my phone to stay connected and in the loop wherever I may be. But what about those other 8hrs in the day? Zip. The phone sits, charges, and serves no purpose.
Until I found FOLDING@HOME.
FOLDING@HOME is an application developed by Stanford University in conjunction with Sony. It is an attempt to utilize untapped processing power around the world.
The app is simple. Once downloaded, you grant the app access to your phones untapped potential when certain conditions are met.
- Must be on Wi-Fi
- Must be connected to a charger
- Must be 100% battery life
When these condition are met, you are now contributing towards many lofty goals as find cures for Alzheimer’s, Cancer, and other horrible diseases.
For those that want to be aware of what it is they are contributing, the app will track and show you the amount of ‘contribution time’ from your device. You can even share these numbers with others if you choose and see how you stack up against other contributors. For those that like to share, you can take it a step further and even create an account and gain ‘achievement trophies’. This adds a little bit of fun to the process, as you are required to contribute a certain amount of hours to gain trophies. As you progress by contributing more hours, you ‘become’ increasingly complex molecules (Aminoacid – Peptide – Polypeptide – Protein – Enzyme).
The name of the app ‘Folding@Home’ comes from the problem being studied itself. The processing power is dedicated to mapping the folding, and unfolding patterns of proteins. By mapping and studying errors in protein folding processes, we can gain an understanding of how these diseases manifest. This allows for us to avoid, and treat and hopefully one day cure these diseases
Folding@Home is not alone in the space they occupy. There are other offerings from other universities as well. For example, Berkeley has developed a more customisable version called BOINC that allows you to choose which field your processing power will aid. I however find the ease of use much better on Folding@Home, making it my app of choice.
Available as both a phone app, and a desktop variant, why not give Folding@Home a shot, and give science a helping hand!
It’s free, convenient, and helpful. I think I may just let it run for 10hrs tonight.
Check out their website below for more info