Volunteer Computer Downtime to Cure Disease

Anyone who has a computer and an Internet connection can share a gift that keeps on giving. Through a project called Rosetta@home, people who don’t use their computer 24/7 can donate their machine’s idle time to biomedical research aimed to cure challenging diseases like HIV, cancer and malaria.

Such cures often involve massive number crunching and complex calculations. It’s called “distributed computing” and it uses hundreds or thousands of separate computers to take on difficult tasks by breaking them into smaller, more manageable chunks.

“This is a way that people from all backgrounds can make important contributions to progress in science and medicine,” says Dr. David Baker, who heads up the at-home project. Baker is a biochemist with the University of Washington and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Getting involved is easy. For more information visit the Rosetta@home website at Boinc.BakerLab.org/rosetta. A simple download and installation of the Rosetta software readies a computer to connect with Rosetta@home. The program sits idle until the computer is not in use. Then it grabs a chunk of data and works steadily until the owner returns to reclaim the computer.

Source: University of Washington

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