Foldit Players Crush Scientific Problem!
For over a decade scientists have been trying to solve a riddle. Intensive research has been underway to try to find a drug that can block certain enzymes that play a critical role in in how the AIDS virus matures and multiplies. The problem scientists were facing was that they didn’t know exactly what the enzymes looked like so they called in the gamers. GAAAAAAME OOOOOOON! Dr. Firas Khatib of the University of Washington said “We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed.”
The game that was used in helping the scientists with their problem is a game called Foldit. The game uses a person’s natural spatial ability. In the game the player can rotate 3 dimensional chains of amino acids in cyberspace. “People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,” said Dr. Cooper of Washington University. Foldit also uses a program called Rosetta which encourages participants to configure graphics into a workable protein model.
The scientists were amazed at how good the modules were that the players produced through the game Foldit. They were also surprised to find out that the modules the Foldit players built actually had surfaces on the protein molecule that stood out as likely targets for drugs to de-active the enzyme. The coolest thing is that it only took the gamers 3 weeks to solve the riddle that had stumped scientists for over ten years.
After the success of the program scientist Dr. Khatib went on to say “The ingenuity of the game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems.” Researchers also said, “The solution of the AIDS enzyme structure indicates the power of online computer games to channel human intuition and three-dimensional pattern matching skills to solve challenging scientific problems.” From what I gather, the possibilities are endless. “Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans”, said Dr. Cooper. “The results of this collaboration show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before.
I think this discovery is totally cool. The one thing the scientists don’t attribute the discovery to is the human imagination. They say that it’s a humans spatial skills, ingenuity, and reasoning that gives us an edge over computers when it comes to these kinds of problems. I believe it’s much more than any of that. I think that the game unlocked an untapped source of imagination and creation that we all possess. Seriously, the gamers crushed the scientific problem in 3 weeks! I mean, really, what does that tell you?
After finding out about this discovery it got me thinking of all the people out there who are bound by a job. What most people don’t know is that they can put a little effort in on the side and break free of the rat race. Just think of it, no more job, no more boss, and no more trading your time for money! There are a lot of folks out there that could unleash their imaginations and get the life they’ve always wanted, but they’re afraid of getting out of their comfort zone. That’s why I think games are such a huge thing these days; people can fulfill a need without breaking free. For those people I’ll leave you with two quotes from one of my favorite speakers Jim Rohn: “Profits are better than wages; Wages make you a living but profits make you a fortune” and “Beware of the thief on the street who’s after your purse, but more importantly beware of the thief in your mind who’s after your dreams.” We all face challenges but usually ourselves are the biggest challenge.
Eric & Lauren Kalberer
P.S. If you’re looking for a way to get out of the rat race and join a team that will help you unlock your potential CLICK HERE! (you’ll have to approve the app to see the video)