I hate folding laundry, but I love folding proteins. For a while now I’ve been taking part in the Folding@Home project that Stanford runs. It’s similar to the SETI@Home distributed computing project, but it has a more immediately practical application. Basically, you install a client on your PC and, when it doesn’t have anything better to do, it analyzes proteins and sends the data back to Stanford. The goal is to understand more about how proteins work so they can use it to cure major diseases.
Naturally you can’t ask geeks to do anything like this without the yardsticks coming out and various tips and tricks on how to maximize efficiency, etc. I’m a proud member of the Maximum PC folding team and even I can’t resist poring over my stats. I realized I was in danger of slipping off the top 100 for the team, so I’ve installed the client on one of the common-use Macs here at the office, plus my dual-core laptop is folding some special beta stuff for multi-core systems which is paying off handsomely.
If you are geeky and you would like to, you know, maybe try to cure cancer or something, download something and join team 11108. It works on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and even PS3.