NET NEWS: Computing for Humanity

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Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5701.1449d

If you haven't already donated your desktop computer's downtime to searching for new drug candidates or signs of alien life, here's your chance. A new site launched by IBM and partners is recruiting volunteers to help crunch research problems. The goal is to aid society, for example, by studying diseases or predicting natural disasters.

Participants will download software that lets their PC analyze chunks of a problem when the machine is idling, as was first done in 1999 by SETI@Home, which combs through radio signals from space for possible messages. Yoked together, the computers will add up to a giant supercomputer. The World Community Grid will begin with the Human Proteome Folding Project run by the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington, which aims to determine the shapes of human proteins. IBM is also soliciting proposals for five or six other projects a year.

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