I’m a big fan of distributed computing. I think it’s a very elegant way to give scientists access to large quantities of computing power that would otherwise be wasted, thus speeding up new discoveries in many fields (math, biology, physics, material sciences, etc).
A good primer on the subject can be found here: How-To: Join Distributed Computing projects that benefit humanity
What if some of the world’s estimated 650 million PCs (and 250 million households with broadband Internet) could be linked to assist scientists in solving critical real world problems? This is exactly what humanitarian grid computing is about!
Donate your computer’s idle CPU time to humanitarian non-profit scientific research projects. Help find cures for diseases like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, MS, Alzheimer, or help predict the earth’s climate change, or advance science e.g. search for gravitational waves, help CERN build its latest particle accelerator or Berkeley search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Project I currently support
- Rosetta@Home (protein/RNA/enzyme design – join my team here, and check out the excellent Rosetta@home page on Wikipedia)
Other projects that I like
- Folding@Home (understanding protein folding and misfolding. Here’s a very interesting podcast interview with Dr. Vijay S. Pande, Director of Folding@Home. I’m a member of the Longevity Meme team.)
Orbit@Home (this project is now in the beta phase — see this post for more info about Asteroids and Near Earth Objects)This project was initially promising, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for now.
- Human Proteome Folding (obtain high-resolution structures for specific human proteins and pathogen proteins and explore the limits of protein structure prediction)
- Help Conquer Cancer (improves our understanding of cancer initiation, progression and treatment)
- BOINC Simap (public database of pre-calculated protein similarities.)
- Einstein@Home (search for gravity waves from spinning neutron stars)
- ClimatePrediction.net (climate modeling)
You can see my BOINC stats here.
How to help
The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, better known as BOINC, is the platform used by most projects (including all of those I listed above).
To get started there are three steps:
- Choose projects
- Download and run BOINC software
- Enter the project URLs, your email address, and password.
If you need more details, see this BOINC help page.
Happy data crunching!