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Natural Awakenings Seattle

Volunteer Computer Downtime to Cure Disease

Jan 01, 2007 02:23PM

Anyone who has a computer and an Internet connection can share a gift that keeps on giving. Through a project called [email protected], people who don’t use their computer 24/7 can donate their machine’s idle time to biomedical research aimed to cure challenging diseases like HIV, cancer and malaria.

Such cures often involve massive number crunching and complex calculations. It’s called “distributed computing” and it uses hundreds or thousands of separate computers to take on difficult tasks by breaking them into smaller, more manageable chunks.

“This is a way that people from all backgrounds can make important contributions to progress in science and medicine,” says Dr. David Baker, who heads up the at-home project. Baker is a biochemist with the University of Washington and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Getting involved is easy. For more information visit the [email protected] website at A simple download and installation of the Rosetta software readies a computer to connect with [email protected] The program sits idle until the computer is not in use. Then it grabs a chunk of data and works steadily until the owner returns to reclaim the computer.

Source: University of Washington

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