Gamers, bitcoin 'miners' and other tech-savvy groups of people are being recruited as new resources in the battle against Covid-19.
A new project led by a group of researchers and computational biologists is networking hundreds of thousands of computers from around the world together, in a bid to form the 'brain' of one of the most powerful crowd-sourced supercomputers the world has ever seen.
To date, over 400,000 users have downloaded an application called "[email protected]" that basically hooks your machine up to a network and allows scientists to use any 'spare' computational power to help accelerate research for a coronavirus treatment.
Director Greg Bowman, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, explained to AFP that the initiative is a great way for people trapped at home to help out the global effort in fighting Covid-19.
But the tech the group is using isn't new, per se.
The virtual supercomputer has actually been around for about 20 years, and was originally launched at Stanford University in an attempt to better understand the nature of diseases and how they spread.
The research focuses specifically on "protein folding" – biological anomalies in pathogens that make them particularly lethal and contagious.
"The simulations allow us to watch how every atom moves throughout time," Bowman told AFP. "Our primary objective is to hunt for binding sites for therapeutics," Bowman said.
People at home that want to help out with the efforts – helping to track the evolution of the virus and eventually see how it can be contained or treated – can use a wide variety of home tech to aid research.
Desktops, laptops and PlayStation consoles can be used to run background processing for the initiative.
If you've got a powerful rig, or a console sat on your shelves not doing much during the day, you can learn how to join the fight and sign up at the Folding @ Home website, available at the link.
At this point, every little helps, right?
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