Imagine your personal computer helping in the fight against COVID-19. That would be awesome, yeah?
With the daily increase of COVID-19 cases worldwide, a volunteer project called Folding@home known for tackling diseases, including Alzheimer's and Ebola for about two decades with their networked super computer, has organized thousands of ordinary personal computers like yours to help combat coronavirus. It is aimed at understanding the mechanism of the disease at the molecular level and finding weaknesses that medicine can exploit.
This is made possible with its software for Windows, Linux and Mac OS PCs that enables it to fetch a small processing job from the organization's servers, run its calculations, then returns results to be incorporated into research studies. When it's done, your machine fetches the next job.
How your computer can help make the difference
Folding@home volunteers each create a short movie about the jiggling atoms that form parts of the coronavirus, each movie starting with a different arrangement of atomic motions. Having thousands of such minimovies helps Folding@home researchers understand a virus' overall behavior. The PCs of Folding@home's volunteers create animations for the new coronavirus' three-protein "spike." The animations are designed to help researchers locate pockets where drug molecules could attack.
Folding@home (FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing project for performing molecular dynamics simulations of protein dynamics. Its initial focus was on protein folding but has shifted to more biomedical problems, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, Coronavirus disease, and Ebola virus disease. The project uses the idle CPU time of personal computers owned by volunteers who have installed the software on their systems.
In October 2000, Folding@home was developed at Stanford University and is today one of the world’s largest computer networks dedicated to finding cures for various diseases, from cancer to COVID-19. It brings together everyday people like you and I who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. This data then helps scientists to develop cures. Some of the tech giants that have also volunteered their infrastructure to help bolster the Folding@home project are Avast, Nvidia Corp, Google, Arch Linux, Hewlett Packard (HP), VMware, Reddit, EVGA, Intel, AMD, Gigabyte etc. Full list of teams can be found here: https://stats.foldingathome.org/teams.
With assistance from these tech companies and individuals altogether, Folding@home has surpassed 1.5 exaflops of computing power, making it the largest supercomputer in the world. But Folding@home still needs more help. You can join the Folding@home program by downloading and installing a piece of the software developed by Folding@home team to make available your computer resources like hard disk, processor, internet network and power supply to a global network dedicated to finding cures for cancer and COVID-19. The data created by your computer will be sent back to Folding@home to analyze and add to the pool. The more computers that are available, the faster we can beat this disease.
Who Runs Folding@Home?
Folding@home is run by the Pande Group, a nonprofit dedicated to science research and education. The Pande Group was started at Stanford University on October 1, 2000 and directed by Professor Vijay Pande until 2019. Today, the group is led by a former student of Professor Pande: Dr. Greg Bowman of Washington University in St. Louis.
Containing the spread of the COVID-19 plague is feasible if all hands are on deck. As with previous strains of coronavirus, this novel iteration spreads through droplets in the air or surfaces occasioned by coughing and/or sneezing by an infected person. We all owe ourselves the duty of adhering to all social distancing principles, use of face masks/disposable gloves, staying at home, as well as Folding@home via our PCs.
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