Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Distributed Computing Projects for You

It's been a while since we last talked about the many distributed computing projects looking for volunteers. But in just those few months many new projects have popped up while others have gone away after successfully completing their goals.  All good news, especially for us who are always looking for a new project to learn about.  So here are a few more to add to our ongoing list.  Won't you give them a look?  You'll see these on the dedicated OpenScientist Distributed Computing Web Page too.

  • Cure Tropical Diseases: The Drug Search for Leishmaniasis (http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/research/dsfl/overview.do) project is looking for a cure to a tropical disease that infects over two million people in 97 countries each year.  Although there are treatments to this often-neglected disease, they aren't completely effective and can cause many negative side effects.  This project will use participant computers to comb through a vast library of potential drug compounds to find just the perfect one to treat the disease.  Click on our World Community Grid blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Spot Incoming Asteroids: Orbit@Home (http://orbit.psi.edu/) is developing statistical models to identify the best places to identify near-Earth asteroids and most accurately determine their likelihood of hitting our planet. The program does not look at individual asteroids but finds the best way to use valuable telescope time. Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Predict Weather 100 Years from Now: ClimatePrediction.net wants to improve climate models that project up to 100 years in the future by better understanding how small changes in assumptions can impact the forecasts. By tweaking these assumptions ever so slightly, the program runs a global climate simulation and analyzes the final results in comparison to simulations run by thousands of other useres. This is important to better understanding global warming and quanitfying the amount of error in current models.
  • Turn Genes On and Off: The DNA@Home project (http://dnahome.cs.rpi.edu/dna/) is trying to better understand gene regulation and transcription, or how cells turn on and off their genes.  Using home computers to collectively examine the genome of a small bacteria, researchers hope to figure out what sets of DNA base pairs control transcription.  Once we understand transcription it becomes easier to turn on beneficial genes and turn off those that cause deadly diseases.  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Fold Proteins: POEM@Home, or Protein Optimization with Energy Method (http://boinc.fzk.de/poem/), is a protein-folding project taking advantage of networked computers to run these computationally-intense tasks. The difference for POEM is the use of some novel new approaches that provide quicker results and allow researchers to investigate the characteristics of each protein shape. Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Investigate How Genes Become Proteins: RNAWorld (http://www.rnaworld.de/rnaworld/) is a collection of projects looking at how these molecules read the DNA code and perform their work in the cell.  Some of the projects are purely basic research while others focus on specific disease-causing aspects of RNA activity.  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Dabble in Many Projects: The Lattice Project (http://boinc.umiacs.umd.edu/) is not just a single project but a method for allowing multiple projects to all share the power of distributed computing networks.  In a nutshell, researchers can add their projects to the Lattice, and the system will distribute the work for all those projects to the networked projects.  This benefits smaller projects that may not want to create their own, free-standing applications but want to take advantage of existing networks instead.  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.

If you have time take a look at some of these for me and let me know your thoughts.  I'm particularly interested in how you think these projects fit within the definition of citizen science we've been working on.  Some people think this should not be considered true citizen science while others disagre.  Before considering that question more I'd like to hear your informed opinions first.

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