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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Play a Game and Win a Nobel Peace Prize?

I read a NewsBlog on The-Scientist.com about a protein folding game called Fold It.
I thought that was mildly interesting at first and somewhat amusing, but particularly because it combines science, puzzles and games, I became intrigued had to check it out!

My first laugh... It was amusing to find that they chose a domain name of FOLD with the country code (IT) of Italy. But you know how geeks can be. :D

Proteins are complex molecules in long chains that spring themselves into curly folds... and look like messy jumbles of utter chaos. The thing though, is that proteins operate like hardware or software in the body, depending on what the protein is and how it is folded, as well being affected by its environment. It is this manner in which proteins are structured that gives them the ability to react variably in their environment and do such things as keep us healthy, to make us sick, or to cure us of something. :)

I haven't tried the game yet but the ideas behind it are intriguing - as you can see from the beta version of game and site icon at the left.
"Solve Puzzles for Science"
.
Hrm...
"We're hopefully going to change the way science is done, and who it's done by," said Popovic, who presented the project today at the Games for Health meeting in Baltimore. "Our ultimate goal is to have ordinary people play the game and eventually be candidates for winning the Nobel Prize."
Hey, that Nobel Prize sounds a little far fetched but there is truth in the fact that some of us are strong on various types of puzzles. Some people are pretty genius at recognizing abstract patterns immediately in bundles of chaos and others have different strengths in problem solving, which together can crystalize innovative approaches. I see that the game is online and free. Apparently they are keeping track of how the game and its puzzles are played by its players.

The homesite for Fold It is here and more about the science of the game can be read in a FAQ. Here's a question from part of the FAQ...

How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases?

With all the things proteins do to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, they can be involved in disease in many different ways. The more we know about how certain proteins fold, the better new proteins we can design to combat the disease-related proteins and cure the diseases.

A short YouTube movie showing the game in action.


Last minute add, a writer on Gamezebo mentions how games can be more directly helpful in healing and therapy.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/28/2008 12:11:00 AM | Permanent link | (3) Comments

Blogger euthymic sent us a woof // May 28, 2008

i think it is a nice idea to make games that also teach science in such an interesting way. i also like your 2 er... little? dogs   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // May 28, 2008

I agree about games that inspire and motivate.

Haha, about the little dogs. The pics of the dogs with Natalka are certainly impressive!   

Anonymous Anonymous sent us a woof // May 30, 2008

Do you think they would send my Nobel Prize in a bubble gum wrapper?

Mark   

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