Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Foldit — Maybe the Most Important Game Ever

posted by Nell Minow

You’ve heard of educational software that teaches you something but this is educational software that teaches scientists something. Foldit is a Tetris-like game that is easy to understand but a challenge to master. That’s what makes it fun. What makes it important is that it was designed by a very serious team of scientists based on models of proteins as a way of furthering their research. As people all over play the game, they are sending back to the scientists important data that will help them learn more about the way proteins work.

The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.

Calculations involving spatial understanding are among the few that are still done most effectively by humans instead of computers. As people work through the levels of the game, they are performing thousands of calculations and experiments. Some of them have even become so interested they have done a little research of their own. Others are just having fun working through the game and competing with each other online. PRI’s Studio 360 has a terrific segment on Foldit and a video clip to show how the game works.



Previous Posts

Johnny Cash's Thanksgiving Song
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuaC6h_4AB8[/youtube]

posted 12:00:11pm Nov. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Happy Thanksgiving 2014!
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NSQLMPUK-8[/youtube] All my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving to all, and please know how thankful I am for the time you spend here.

posted 7:00:00am Nov. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Claire LaZebnik's Thoughts on Thanks
I can't think of a better way to start Thanksgiving weekend than taking a few minutes to read my friend Claire LaZebnik's wise and inspiring essay on gratitude. This most American of holidays is often accompanied by stress -- from hosting and being hosted, from traveling, from family. Claire write

posted 9:39:41am Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Horrible Bosses 2
Maybe it's just the proximity to the horrible "Dumb and Dumber To," but the cheerily offensive "Horrible Bosses 2" made me laugh. Full warning -- it begins with an elaborate sight gag as our hapless he

posted 5:58:28pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Penguins of Madagascar
The most adorable characters from the first three animated "Madagascar" movies were the penguins, the seldom right but never in doubt leader Skipper (Tom McGrath), the often right but never listened to Kowalski (Chris Miller), the literally explosive Rico (Conrad Vernon), and the ever-loyal Private

posted 5:17:32pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.