Being an online gamer doesn’t hold quite the same social stigma it once did. It’s now perfectly acceptable to admit to others, even in polite and mixed company, that you play World of Warcraft until four in the morning. Games like Second Life and WoW have brought a pastime once associated with spotty, socially inept, teenagers to the masses.
It seems that thanks to the online game called FoldIt that this evolution of sorts is being taken to a whole new extreme. An extreme that, even after continued assessment and reassessment seems… odd.
Without getting too heavily involved in the baffling science behind Protein folding, FoldIt enables players to help shape the advance of medical science by simulating the protein folding process. Players compete to fold the best protein, and the software predicts just how effectively they have solved the problem. The end result could well be used to help create vaccines and make medical discoveries.
While it hints of a million monkeys with a million typewriters game developers claim that FoldIt uses humans’ inherent problem solving capabilities, thus removing the need to rely on expensive and largely time consuming computer analytical methods of discovering protein folding methods.
So if, God forbid, you’re ever diagnosed with a life threatening disease and the doctor tells you that they have a breakthrough vaccine they’d like to try, don’t be too surprised if you learn that it was developed by somebody called **FoldItN00b1972**.