HealthWatch: Folding @ Home – Citizen Scientists Join Fight Against COVID-19 | WFRV Local 5


ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Volunteers from all over the world come together to create one of the world’s largest supercomputers. The one that could contain the answers to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, macular degeneration, Ebola virus and even COVID-19. Citizen scientists, computer geeks, school children, gamers and professional athletes are using their personal computers to get to the root of the problem. And you can get involved too.

Greg Bowman is the man behind one of the largest computer crowdsourcing networks called Folding at Home. He seeks to cure illnesses, including his own.

“My interest in proteins really stems from a childhood experience where I lost most of my vision to a juvenile form of macular degeneration,” said Greg Bowman, PhD, computer biophysicist at Washington. University School of Medicine.

Bowman’s eyesight has faded since the second year. Although legally blind, Bowman studies proteins. Something so small that no one can see them.

“It is the molecular machines that carry out most of the active processes associated with life,” Bowman explained.

Breaking down a single protein can take a lifetime, even for the most complex computers. So from his office at the University of Washington, Bowman uses millions of computers around the world to get the job done.

“What we’ve done is come up with ways to break down these essentially insoluble problems into completely independent chunks that we can send out to several thousand people to run in parallel,” Bowman explained.

Folding at Home aims to understand how proteins move or fold into their proper forms to keep our bodies functioning. Four million people from all over the world are helping to find the answers.

“It’s a bit like a synergy, as if each on their own, independent, would not be able to achieve what they could accomplish by working together towards the same common goal,” said Mohammad Syed, Citizen Scientist , New Zealand.

“The more computers you bring in, the better, but anyone can help speed up the simulations we do,” Bowman said.

To download the Folding @ home software, go to Foldingathome.org/startfolding.

Many large companies are already on board. Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco and Oracle are using their computers to fall back. Even professional sports stepped in to help, including the Spanish professional football league. With the new wave of attendees, Folding at Home now has more raw computing power than the world’s 500 largest traditional supercomputers combined.

About Mariel Baker

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