Caption: Fold.It screen shot
Fold.It screen shot 

Crowd-sourcing Biological Solutions Through Gaming

From: Sarah Lilley
Length: 06:17

Embed_button
A web-based video game called FoldIt uses crowd-sourcing in the hopes of solving some very big -- er, tiny -- biological problems.

Competition_small Most computer and video games are directed at teenagers, and they're about battles and warriors of various kinds.  You wield crazy weapons, you steal things, you speed through complex environments, you kill your opponents.  And there are all kinds of personalities and avatars to make it compelling, even additictive.  So how about this for a blockbuster game:  "It's a protein.  It's made of amino acids.  You can figure out its shape. Okay — go!"  No?  C'mon, it's more fun than it sounds… and the stakes are higher than you think.

Piece Description

Most computer and video games are directed at teenagers, and they're about battles and warriors of various kinds.  You wield crazy weapons, you steal things, you speed through complex environments, you kill your opponents.  And there are all kinds of personalities and avatars to make it compelling, even additictive.  So how about this for a blockbuster game:  "It's a protein.  It's made of amino acids.  You can figure out its shape. Okay — go!"  No?  C'mon, it's more fun than it sounds… and the stakes are higher than you think.

Broadcast History

Aired on PRI's "Studio 360" on March 20, 2009.

Transcript

SARAH LILLEY: Before you can appreciate Fold.it, you have to grasp this one crucial fact:

DAVID BAKER: All the important processes in life are carried out by proteins.

SL: You got that? All the important processes in life are carried out by proteins. That was David Baker, and he’s a protein guy -- a professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington.

DB: Proteins are essentially miniature machines which carry out almost all the important jobs in your body. Like any machine, the way the machine works depends very much on its shape and geometry. The problem is that proteins are very, very small. You can't simply put a protein in a microscope and see what shape it is.

SL: And there’s a gajillion different proteins that Baker cares about -- all of them so small he can't see what their shapes actually are. If he could see, he'd know a lot more about what kind of job...
Read the full transcript

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

Most computer and video games are directed at teenagers, and they're about battles and warriors of various kinds. You wield crazy weapons, you steal things, you speed through complex environments, you kill your opponents. And there are all kinds of personalities and avatars to make it compelling, even additictive. So how about this for a blockbuster game: "It's a protein. It's made of amino acids. You can figure out its shape. Okay — go!" No? C'mon, it's more fun than it sounds… and the stakes are higher than you think. Producer Sarah Lilley has the story.

OUTRO:

You can try your own hand at Fold.It by going to www.Fold.it.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Conical Flask Nobukazu Takemura Assembler: Assembler 2. Thrill Jockey 2003 :00

Related Website

http://www.fold.it