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Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-that-tetris-paying-off dept.

Medicine 149

An anonymous reader writes "Gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade. The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, they called in the Foldit players. The scientists challenged the gamers to produce an accurate model of the enzyme. They did it in only three weeks."

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149 comments

Avoid SGC (1, Offtopic)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437474)

If Stargate Command comes to your door recruiting, best bet is to politely turn them down.

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437482)

That didn't work so well for Eli Wallas [wikipedia.org] , did it?

Re:Avoid SGC (3, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437588)

What scares me is that a character from a freaking TV show has a far better, more fleshed out Wikipedia article than many (most?) prominent scientists. Not to mention other worthwhile people.

Re:Avoid SGC (3, Interesting)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437680)

You've obviously never heard about Wikipedia's Poke'mon problem. At one stage, there was more about Poke'mon (as in, a ludicrously large amount more) on Wikipedia than there was about World War II.

Hence the creation of Bulbapedia. The Poke'mon Problem probably still holds though.

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437884)

Alt-0233, at least on a standard US Windows installation, yields "é". ...Yeeeah, I actually know that offhand.

Just a hunch, but I'm willing to bet there's a lot more people technologically-capable people interested in Pokémon than WWII though.

Re:Avoid SGC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438452)

Only British people and old American men are obsessed with WWII.

Re:Avoid SGC (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437886)

Which isn't really a problem, in my opinion.

Wikipedia isn't limited by space and volunteer driven. If somebody currently wants to write about Pokemon, then they will try to write about Pokemon. If you insist on interferring with that attempt, then you're likely to seriously cause a bad impression to somebody who's trying to make a honest, if not very important contribution.

As a result, they get fed up and leave, maybe for Bulbapedia, instead of sticking around, and maybe writing on something a bit more important next time. After all, Wikipedia isn't a job, and you can't command people like that there.

The mentality of that some not very important articles are too long is IMO a big problem. Because there has to be something silly and harmless to get a new contributor started. Pokemon is probably one of the best first starting subjects, because it's easy to contribute on it: there's lots of info that can be contributed, and it's well documented outside on WP.

In comparison starting from trying to contribute on the page of Pasteur will be like walking into a battlefield. You'll quickly need to start discussing medical literature, and that's not really easy for most people. Somebody with a real interest might get into that, but most likely only after getting practice on something else, just like coders don't get started by contributing to the Linux kernel.

IMO that's why Wikipedia is losing contributors. If you actively reject attempts to contribute in the easiest places, then smack people in the face with huge amounts of WP: regulation in other places, then very few people are going to be willing to stick around.

Re:Avoid SGC (3, Insightful)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438628)

Exactly.... and that's why after modifying and cleaning up hundred upon hundreds of pages, only to see my revisions reversed by a bot no less, is why I stopped contributing years ago to Wikipedia. Now my time is spent playing mindless games on Facebook to pass the time - oh well. The "thou shalt" attitude doesn't help either. Admins need to learn to be subservient and teach rather than dictate.

Oh well, clearly they are doing just fine without me - won't even miss it if they disappeared tommorow. Seriously.

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37439270)

I gave up on wikipedia, there is no way to make it into a truly useful tool.

Here is history of a comment I was making as an example, [wikipedia.org] this is more of a public announcement about a pump and dump scheme that is in process. SEC is notified, they are doing absolutely nothing about it, they don't care.

You think SEC cares about retail investors who are being destroyed by pump and dumps schemes? You think SEC cared about Madoff?

But you can't leave a comment on wikipedia, where it could REALLY be useful to people, who just may stumble upon an article about pumping and dumping stocks, a robot or a "live" admin will take the comment down.

What good is wikipedia then, if it cannot be used in creative ways to disseminate useful information?

Bart Simpson has a bigger page (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437706)

so eat my shorts!

Re:Bart Simpson has a bigger page (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437732)

Yeah. One thing we can bet a lot of money on: none of the scientists are black. Or maybe they ARE black and that's why they needed gamers to help them.

Whichever one is most consistent with the stupid self-destructive violent nature of blacks is the one that is true.

All you PC liberal types who think affirmative action is a wonderful idea need to spend about 1 day in a real ghetto full of gang violence and crack and abuse. See how they treat each other (black-on-black crime being a lot higher than white-on-black crime has ever EVER been). Then from that perspective judge how whites treat them. Better than they deserve. It's obvious.

Re:Bart Simpson has a bigger page (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437874)

I totally concur on all levels, at all points, and for all reasons!

--

KILL ALL NIGGERS AND JEWS

Re:Avoid SGC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437738)

Why does this scare you? Does the length of a Wikipedia article measure worth in any form?

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437930)

Once you've put 40 meaningful words into my wikipedia entry, I'll tell you all you want to know about the worth of a wikipedia article.

Re:Avoid SGC (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437762)

Everything that those scientists or their contemporaries might post to Wikipedia would be deleted because it would be first-hand knowledge. How dare someone who actually *knows* the people in question try to edit the bios; they're not Wikipedia insiders!

Re:Avoid SGC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437910)

True. You have to wait for some science "journalist" to write it in his blog and link it on reddit before you can put it on the wiki, lest it be removed as [dubious] or Original Research. Or just make it so batshit insanely stupid that it passes QA because the circlejerk thinks if it's that crazy, it must be true!

Re:Avoid SGC (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437920)

So? In more important news, most celebrities (including many that are famous for being stupid, mean, drug addicts etc.) are better paid and better known than most (all?) prominent scientists. Not to mention other worthwhile people.

Re:Avoid SGC (3, Insightful)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438466)

Because

1- the lives of real people, including scientists, are private, whereas that of a fictional character are all open to anybody to summarize, analyze and discuss
2- the achievements of real people are sometimes controversial. Who could say with certainty that Cooley and Tukey invented the FFT, while it was used by Gauss in his astronomy work to speed up his calculation, but thought it unimportant enough to report compared to his number theory work? That itself may be controversial. Science is littered with misappropriated credit. For instance George Dantzig did not invent the first solution the the LP problem. Fourier knew about it ; people in the Soviet Union were using it before WWII. Hence writing about real people, particularly scientists, is hard.
3- There are far far far fewer people interested in the life of non-glamorous people than even minor fictional characters.
4- Who cares? People write about what they want in wikipedia. Someone writing on stargate does not prevent someone else writing on Paul Dirac.

Thanks a lot (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437766)

That didn't work so well for Eli Wallas, did it?

Well, I guess I can throw away the DVDs of Stargate Universe I was saving up for Christmas vacation.

Next time, how 'bout a little spoiler alert, yeah?

Re:Thanks a lot (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437908)

The first blurb on the wikipedia article spoils about the first 20 minutes of the pilot. That is all.....

Hardly a spoiler for a 2-season show :p

Re:Thanks a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437970)

well he didnt do anything notable except to stay and fix the cold sleep chambers while they jumped across to another galaxy in the end.

Re:Thanks a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438842)

Here's a spoiler for the rest though: 1 seaon of angsty, reality-show-esque soap-opera-drama followed by one season of actual Stargate.

Re:Avoid SGC (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437490)

Kind of reminds me of "Ender's Game". #### SPOILER ALERT ####

. The only way to beat the buggers was to have a kid think he was playing a game. I thought it was pretty obvious conclusion, and wasn't the least bit surprised by the ending. Anyway, I think that this just signifies that we aren't anywhere close to AI yet, and that we don't even understand how smart we really are, compared to machines.

Re:Avoid SGC (2)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437516)

Really has to do with what you mean by AI. If you mean general reasoning machine, no we're not anywhere close.

If you are talking about solving certain domains of knowledge, AI is around us every day and doing very well! Jeopardy playing, chess solving, spam classifying, robot vacuuming, voice recognition, etc., are all some of the more visible expressions of AI.

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

nbetcher (973062) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437586)

If Stargate Command comes to your door recruiting, best bet is to politely turn them down.

(This comment is in regards to the first episode of Stargate Universe, in the event that you're curious.)

Re:Avoid SGC (2)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437616)

Showing my age, but The Last Starfighter [imdb.com] also came to mind. Can anyone think of an earlier instance of video game talent scouting in sci-fi?

Re:Avoid SGC (2)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437664)

Entertainingly enough, quote from SG-U (which the GP was referencing)

Eli: And screw The Last Starfighter, because all of those hours playing Halo didn't prepare me for this.

Re:Avoid SGC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437688)

damn you! we're not old!

Why the hell do the kids call me sir?

Just a Guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437770)

damn you! we're not old!

Why the hell do the kids call me sir?

Because Mama wasn't just some whore, they come from a nuclear family, and they actually know who their father is and see him on a daily basis?

Re:Just a Guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438042)

I meant the 20-something kids at work, but yes, you characterized my children well.

Re:Just a Guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438274)

Perhaps you haven't done enough to lose their respect yet.

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437796)

If Stargate Command comes to your door recruiting, best bet is to politely turn them down.

Might be a better idea to accept with the proviso that you're allowed to pack several changes of clothes.

Re:Avoid SGC (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438268)

I'd rather run into them than get a visit from Centauri [wikipedia.org] any day of the week. I mean I like a challenge, but a gung ho iguana and one fighter against an entire armada? There is a challenge and then there is suicidal.

As for TFA, were they surprised? Humans looooove puzzles and if you can make a problem into a puzzle game you'll have plenty of folks lining up to work on your "game". I think they should be really pushing this along with the "at home" GPU programs as you'd be surprised at how many people out there would be happy to help but they don't know they exist. I personally have been informing every customer with a halfway decent GPU and quite a few have joined one of the at home projects. I myself will be joining as soon as I can get around to finding a suitable GPU cooler replacement, those HD48xx series run too damned hot with the OEM cooler. The moron that decided a single slot cooler for a chip with a 256bit pipeline and hundreds of stream processors was a good idea really needed to be smacked.

but they really need to get the word out. Send someone to good Morning America and some of the other major talk shows and get some buzz built up, as I bet there are tons of folks out there that would be happy to join in and help, if only they knew it existed.

Re:Avoid SGC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438406)

Shut the fuck up shitbag.

But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437526)

I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437592)

I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

Yep. Unfortunately for the researchers, I've already patented the business model of
1) Create mapping of task to game
2) Get suckers to play game
3) Map winning game solutions to task solutions
4) Profit

This is distinguished from "Ender's Game" by the presence of Step 3. It is distinguished from the standard slashdot business plan by the lack of "???".

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437628)

I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

You do realize that the structure on its own doesn't generate royalties, right? Knowing the structure is just one step towards developing new treatments. The gamers didn't do the simulations for ligand binding and enzymatic activity; they just did the work for the static structure.

What you're calling for is like saying we should name planets after the first people who looked at them, because they knew they were there even though they didn't know anything else about them.

Crappy analogy (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437666)

What you're calling for is like saying we should name planets after the first people who looked at them, because they knew they were there even though they didn't know anything else about them.

I take that back, that was a crappy analogy. After all, in this situation all the gamers did was offer up CPU time towards solving the protein folding problem for this specific enzyme. They didn't even look at anything, really. They didn't even necessarily have any idea what they were actually doing with their spare CPU cycles in the grand scheme of things.

Really, the notion that they should be compensated for what they voluntarily donated is worse than suggesting that any Nobel Prize for which an acceptance speech was written in Microsoft Word should be automatically shared with Bill Gates.

Re:Crappy analogy (5, Informative)

nadaou (535365) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437744)

After all, in this situation all the gamers did was offer up CPU time towards solving the protein folding problem for this specific enzyme. They didn't even look at anything, really.

Your understanding of it is rather mistaken, please download the game and try it for yourself.

FoldIt is not a distributed number crunching @Home variant where a screensaver uses your CPU cycles to help with a massive parallel calculation because the upstream researchers can't afford a personal super computer.

FoldIt is an interactive 3D puzzle game (like what Bill the Cat's version of a Rubic's Cube would be like) where many human brains attack a problem, not their computers. The scientists already have super computers but they aren't much help in this class of problem, where human reasoning really shines.

According to TFA, the gamers are named as co-authors on the write-up in a highly prestigious journal, which is very nice kudos indeed.

Re:Crappy analogy (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438278)

According to TFA, the gamers are named as co-authors on the write-up in a highly prestigious journal, which is very nice kudos indeed.

Yes, I suspect F@H players are like OSS contributors at heart, they enjoy a puzzle and just want a bit of recognition when they're the first to solve it.

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (1)

Jaazaniah (894694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437746)

When was the last time you read a patent for a chemical or biological agent? The substance itself is just a valid a claim under the patent as the process that created it. US Classification 200/157.68 (definition) [uspto.gov] is one of the classes the resulting patent could land in if the process involves microwave energy.

If the person(s) who solved this challenge realize this, a landmark legal battle over crowd-sourcing for patent-eligible materials could be on the verge of happening.

Conventional wisdom is also called into question here, when the University system is trumped as the best way to continue research in an age when we could see the most significant advances in bio science come from people who are dynamos for complex rules. i.e. Gamers. Will it change? Likely not, the University system does have many advantages. But a decades-old problem solved in 3 weeks, by a single-generation crowd compared to how many layers of research papers on the topic? That's beyond embarrassing.

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438160)

Not necessarily. It's more or less inevitable. The more education one has, the more difficulty one typically has in seeing solutions that don't come from that view of the world.

Somebody that's studied statistics and probability theory is probably not going to do very well playing poker for long periods of time because the knowledge from those areas tell that person that the odds don't change over time. The problem is that ultimately they do, the human component of the game does get tired, does make mistakes and does respond to various types of streaks that might happen and the numbers that one runs based upon the theory don't work if they don't take those external factors into account.

Likewise in this case, they've PhDs in their fields, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're nimble enough to be able to fold the protein in the way they want to in a simulation. However, if the players are figuring out how to use the results, that would be incredibly embarrassing.

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438244)

However, if the players are figuring out how to use the results, that would be incredibly embarrassing.

The players would have to be molecular biochemists (or similar) to figure out how to use the resulting structure, and the researchers have already started figuring out how to use it. They may identify a site on the surface for which they can create a compound that will attach and block the enzyme.

This is all very difficult, and that would be an astounding achievement, but there is nothing embarrassing about any of this. It took a lot of effort to identify the molecular chains of the enzyme and programming efforts to enable manipulation of molecular chains into 3D structures.
 

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438318)

The players would have to be molecular biochemists (or similar) to figure out how to use the resulting structure, and the researchers have already started figuring out how to use it. They may identify a site on the surface for which they can create a compound that will attach and block the enzyme.

Sadly, there are many papers published on this exact topic, but they don't receive the attention that these get. Would be nice considering those papers could be summarized "scientists do their job well, don't ask gamers for help, advance science", but because they asked gamers they get the press releases and attention.

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438188)

The problem was solved within the context of a university driven research project (Foldit) which was geared towards finding out if humans could be more efficient then computer algorithms in finding protein folding solutions. Gamification in action but this isn't breaking any research paradigms.

This just goes to confirm what that project already discovered though: that humans are still somewhat better at this type of problem solving then computers, with the postulated reason being that we're much more resistant to getting stuck in localized minima: i.e. if we can see two pieces almost fit together, but won't get any closer, a person is willing to unravel large parts of their solution to try and get it closer whereas it's very difficult to write a good algorithm which will do the same.

OT (0)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438384)

I'm not a grammar Nazi, my prose is often full of it's/its and your/you're mistakes. So before someone calls you an idiot for a simple syntax error I would just like to point out you have made the then/than mistake twice as in "more efficient then computers" and "better at this type of problem solving then computers".

Re:But the gamers won't get any of the royalties (1)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438906)

The problem was solved within the context of a university driven research project (Foldit) which was geared towards finding out if humans could be more efficient then computer algorithms in finding protein folding solutions. Gamification in action but this isn't breaking any research paradigms.

Correct. Also, the reason why researchers didn't figure out the structure entirely on their own is not because they're dumb or closed-minded, but because manually fiddling with protein structures like this is very time-consuming, and they have better things to do with their time and other people's money. Outsourcing the problem to volunteers is a terrific idea, and I'm happy for them that it worked, but to suggest that the researchers were somehow embarrassed by gamers is to completely miss the point.

(To push a little further, since I actually work in this field I suspect there are other purely computational strategies that would have worked but hadn't been tried yet - most of these involve cutting out parts of the model instead of trying to fix them. But kudos to the Baker lab for their more creative solution.)

Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437536)

There is no substitute for human ingenuity, which is captured by crowd sourcing. Kudos to whoever managed to make folding protein structures entertaining enough to capture the interest of enough people to make it feasible. :)

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (1)

Jaazaniah (894694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437754)

I couldn't agree more. Perhaps this approach would bring about the next few waves of major advancements in other fields that have been stuck for decades.

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437798)

Perhaps this approach would bring about the next few waves of major advancements in other fields , such as videogames...

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437892)

Not yet...

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438062)

Exactly what I was thinking.

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (3, Interesting)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437984)

Several items to note on this:

- kudos to researchers for bringing in gamers to gain some understanding on solving tghis problem

- kudos to the FoldIt programmers for making this 3D structure puzzle a solvable problem. They also constantly refined the puzzle based on feedback from the gamers.

- Not mentioned so far is the incredible importance of finding a workable structure to the retroviral protease enzyme, and that the researchers noted the structure may provide the opportunity to be blocked. If so that would appear to this layman of a nearly universal cure for viruses that insert DNA into chromosomes. I may be overstating that but I don't think it's limited to AIDS.

- There are many other puzzles to be solved for cellular components from what I read. This is clearly one of utmost importance, but I imagine there are others to solve now.

- This reminds me from what I read of the widespread efforts of laymen participation in solving important mathematical puzzles in the 1500's to 1800's.

- I don't know about this having a real useful impact to primary education, other than wow interest factor, but seems to be something that could be ongoing challenges, real "games" to solve if you will, for some time to come. There are innumerable puzzles to be solved at this level.

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438106)

Several items to note on this:

- kudos to researchers for bringing in gamers to gain some understanding on solving tghis problem

- kudos to the FoldIt programmers for making this 3D structure puzzle a solvable problem. They also constantly refined the puzzle based on feedback from the gamers.

- Not mentioned so far is the incredible importance of finding a workable structure to the retroviral protease enzyme, and that the researchers noted the structure may provide the opportunity to be blocked. If so that would appear to this layman of a nearly universal cure for viruses that insert DNA into chromosomes. I may be overstating that but I don't think it's limited to AIDS.

- There are many other puzzles to be solved for cellular components from what I read. This is clearly one of utmost importance, but I imagine there are others to solve now.

- This reminds me from what I read of the widespread efforts of laymen participation in solving important mathematical puzzles in the 1500's to 1800's.

- I don't know about this having a real useful impact to primary education, other than wow interest factor, but seems to be something that could be ongoing challenges, real "games" to solve if you will, for some time to come. There are innumerable puzzles to be solved at this level.

And just think, the non-beta EULA will have you releasing all right to research in the field.

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438158)

[[I don't know about this having a real useful impact to primary education, other than wow interest factor ]]

The "wow interest factor" might be the most useful impact any single discovery could every have on primary education. I'm hopeful it serves to capture the imagination of new prospective future scientists.

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438530)

Except for the licensing of the software. They're holding its potential back by reserving all rights. If they really were interested in advancing science, they would set the software free. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html [gnu.org]

Re:Excellent use of crowd-sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438764)

There is no substitute for human ingenuity

.. yet.

Adding to the Wow factor (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437650)

TFA

According to Popovic, “Foldit shows that a game can turn novices into domain experts capable of producing first-class scientific discoveries. We are currently applying the same approach to change the way math and science are taught in school.

On the "just kidding" track: if that could happen, I wonder how the exams will look like? Will they resemble a FPS [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Adding to the Wow factor (1)

djfuq (1151563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437834)

Assignments filled with repetitious math problems can only be solved with bullets!

Re:Adding to the Wow factor (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438176)

I thought we were trying to eliminate the FPS aspect of schooling and make it more of a RPG or possibly puzzle game.

Re:Adding to the Wow factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438528)

The Typing of the Dead [wikipedia.org] is the best edutational game out there.
Learn touchtype and kill zombies at the same time!

I guess Apple is good for gaming (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437670)

Apple users are like a petri dish for the PC Gamers working to cure AIDS.

After the party & play section on Craigslist, Apple users are the most computerized group of AIDS carriers on the planet.

Apply This Methodology Elsewhere (2)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437768)

FPS Crowdsourcing - Build better drone logic, add some humanoid bots, build massive skilled army!
RTS Crowdsourcing - Solve the whole 'nationalism and dick waving' contest one civ game at a time!
Racing Games Crowdsourcing - Design better robot drivers and automate all vehicles, lower traffic fatalities!
Angry Birds Crowdsourcing - Design better projectile systems for the military!
Farmville Crowdsourcing - Make the people that partake in this one play until they die from starvation, eliminating half the 1st world population and donating their wealth to people who are actually starving!!!! (Reverse logic on this one)

Re:Apply This Methodology Elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438630)

>eliminating half the 1st world population and donating their wealth to people who are actually starving
this is valid logic to many leftists.

Re:Apply This Methodology Elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438634)

Great, just what we need: on top of in-game ads, I'd contribute to better oppressing and killing people. Yea, that sounds like fun.

Re:Apply This Methodology Elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37439152)

Physics puzzle Crowdsourcing - CBRN weapons research ftw!

Gamers have a vested interest here... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437792)

Gamers have a vested interest in solving the structure of an AIDS-like virus...

They are all FAGS.

So who are these gamers working for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437844)

Without attempting to play the game (and any potential EULA that may contain) I don't see anywhere on the site an explanation of who "owns" the results. Are they freely available for all? Do certain corporations or an organiztion get the folding sequences first? Curious minds and all...

Re:So who are these gamers working for? (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438350)

From Wikipedia: "Foldit is an experimental video game about protein folding, developed as a collaboration between the University of Washington's departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Biochemistry (many of the same people who created Rosetta@home)."

Most likely, there will be a scientific paper containing the results, and as far as I know, scientific research papers are public (or maybe require a fee to read). Now drug companies can use these results to try to come up with a drug to fight HIV, which would then not be public domain. Am I off on this?

Re:So who are these gamers working for? (2)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438922)

Most likely, there will be a scientific paper containing the results, and as far as I know, scientific research papers are public (or maybe require a fee to read).

Yes, they require a fee to read - in this case, $32 - and yes, scientists are just as unhappy about this as everyone else, but we have no other way to prove our worth to prospective employers, funding agencies, and tenure committees other than prominent publications. However, the actual structure (including experimental data) is deposited in a public database, as required by every major journal in the field, and should be available shortly. [pdb.org] (There is usually a little bit of lag time before these depositions are released to the public, but rarely more than a couple of weeks.)

Re:So who are these gamers working for? (2)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438956)

Actually, I forgot to mention that since this research is almost certainly NIH-funded, the article is required to be made public in the near future by depositing the manuscript in PubMed Central [nih.gov] . I forget whether the requirement is six months or a year after publication - until then, it remains exclusive to Nature Publishing Group - but eventually it will be freely available.

This is simply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437850)

AMAZONG :D

Foldit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437936)

Congratulations to the Foldit community, both of you, for playing a good game.
I am a bit surprised by "thousands" of people playing.
On first blush it doesn't sound like something that would capture the imagination of "thousands".
And the quality of the minds are surely second to none, because we all know only the sharpest, most industrious examples congregates in the gaming community.

Have they fixed the awful music yet? (3, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37437940)

I "played" this for several months after it first came out. Was reasonably good, not one of the top players but often in the top 30 to 100. Stopped after they added an awful and intolerable music score to it, and gave no way to disable the music. Muting the entire computer wasn't a real option, both because other sound effects made by the "game" were important feedback and because muting would impact other things running on the same computer. Multiple requests to give an option to disable the music (or other alternatives like just removing it) were completely ignored without response. Knowing that if I listened to the "music" any longer I was likely to start killing people, I decided it was prudent to stop running the program. So my question is have they fixed the "music" yet and who decided it was important to force their music choice on all folders rather than just let us run our choice of music players and music on our computers if we wanted music.

Re:Have they fixed the awful music yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37437996)

I've never thought of people as folders before, but the syntax is correct. Thanks for stretching my brain tonight!

Re:Have they fixed the awful music yet? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438080)

They have. There's a general options button and within that you can turn off the music and/or sound effects

When they fix something they should tell people (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438618)

Thanks for the information. Shame that they didn't bother to respond to those who complained and asked for this, not even bothering to send an e-mail to those who complained of it after they made the fix. I haven't been folding in several years now, not sure if I want to start over again after all this lost time

Re:When they fix something they should tell people (0)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438672)

Quit your whining. They have X number of people, and I'd rather they develop software for protein folding than email back individual people who complained about things probably already on a to-do list. For most software projects I'd consider my response a little harsh, but you're advocating an approach where resources used to CURE AIDS are being diverted to "not offending trovingslosh". The least you can do is forgive them, discard your own pettiness, and re-harness your natural ability to spend your gaming time productively. It's a rare skill you have and that project needs people like you.

Re:When they fix something they should tell people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438900)

Yeah! How dare someone have likes and dislikes contrary to yours! He better just knuckle under and suck it all up, and turn into you!

You're a cock.

Re:When they fix something they should tell people (3, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438994)

Wow, "quit your whining". You think they should treat their users any way they please because they are trying to cure Aids. I'm surprised that you didn't throw in a "think of the children" line too

My point isn't about "not offending trovingslosh", but rather about developers who set up feedback systems but can't be bothered to even give a courtesy response when sincere suggestions, even pleas, are made. If I had received even a simple "yea, we will add a choice to disable the "music" when we can get to it, I would have tried to wait it out, or at least checked occasionally to see if they got around to making the fix and I could go back to folding without the torture. I should mention that I did stick it out for over a month, maybe three, with less use and eventually just checking in to see if things were fixed, before I decided that what should have been a very simple UI change wasn't likely to happen. There were many other changes and updates in that time. So you see it as a waste of their time to bother to respond to the feedback system that they created. I see it as a waste of volunteer manpower to ignore the feedback that they solicited, and arrogance on the part of the developers to think that everyone should have to listen to the developer's own choice of "music" when freely giving their time to a scientific application that really had no good reason to insist on playing music in the first place. I doubt very much if I'm the only one that was offended and driven away, both by the sound and by the apathy of the developers for the input of the volunteer users contributing their time.

Thanks, you've helped me make up my mind. I wasn't thrilled about restarting and trying to work up in rank past a quarter million users, but I realize now that it isn't just that, it's having volunteered my time and work for a group that didn't have the common courtesy to respond to very valid feedback. I feel good now about deciding not to go back.

Re:When they fix something they should tell people (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37439122)

And this is why courting gamers to do good for humanity is always going to be a flaky prospect.

Re:Have they fixed the awful music yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438728)

If you're running Windows 7/Vista, you can turn the volume down on individual applications in the volume mixer.

Re:Have they fixed the awful music yet? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438894)

Yea, if it worked. i own Vista for the computer in question, which was marked as Vista ready when I bought it. I upgraded the memory from 1 gig to 4, put in a hard disk nearly 3x larger, but when I went to install Vista, Vista itself complained it wasn't a good idea. I tried anyway but it was right, so the computer is still on XP. And I'll be damned if I'm going to buy the fix for Vista for the same hardware that I already own a copy of Vista for So no 7 (or in the future 8) for this computer. It is on XP and will stay on XP.

Besides, I did mention that the folding program uses sound effects that are important feedback. I did try to run it muted, even though that would mean no IM alerts or other audio from other programs, but it impacted my folding too much. So I stopped folding..

Great.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438282)

Press release.... wonder how much more funding they'll dump on that shitty lab. They already have 50 people, which makes them in the top 1% of science labs.
http://depts.washington.edu/bakerpg/drupal/node/92
They are great at press releases and self-promotion, but bad on actual science. Yes their code is open source, but it is the shittiest code you could imagine. Bordering on a 2.5 million lines or something and it still has bugs and is slow.
Also, the PI is a dick. He was scheduled to come to my old school 3 times to give a talk. After the school paid for everything, he'd cancel. Thankfully doing it the third time got him officially banned from speaking there again.
Seriously, quit feeding their egos. Everyday there are better science papers, more relevant for nerds, but by ignoring them and promoting this shit you send the message that only press release science matters.

this reminds me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37438302)

The thousand monkeys and the typewriter.

This is great news (1)

Phydaux (1135819) | more than 2 years ago | (#37438716)

When I first heard of Foldit I really hoped that something would come of it. I thought that if their models were correct that it could be a great tool, and it looks like it is.

There is no way to "crack" this protein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37439144)

by, um, folding it properly.

or something.

(It was a good try, anyway)

What? No Ender's Game reference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37439302)

For shame Slashdot... 100 comments in and no reference to Ender's Game? Plenty of comments about RPG, FPS, etc. /sigh get off my lawn

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