Your computer can now help solve the world's most difficult health
and social problems.
Launched this week, the World Community Grid will use idle computer
time to test solutions to these problems.
The donated processor cycles will help the WCG create virtual
supercomputers via the net.
The idea follows the success of other similar projects that have used
the untapped processing power of millions of desktop PCs.
One of the most successful collaboration projects was Seti@home, run
by the Search for Extra Terrestrial Life project, which sorted
through radio signals looking for signs of alien communication.
Anyone can volunteer to donate the spare time of their computers by
downloading a special screensaver from the WGC website.
Once installed, the virtual terminal gets a chunk of the
computational task to process, and reports back after completing that
The first WCG problem being tackled will be the Human Proteome
Folding Project, which hopes to identify the ways that the proteins
in our body fold.
The subjects of study are being selected by an international advisory
board of experts specializing in health sciences, and technology.
The body will evaluate proposals from leading research, public and
not-for-profit organizations, and is expected to oversee up to six
projects a year.
Organisations also represented on the board include the United
Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organisation.
"The World Community Grid will enable researchers around the globe to
gather and analyze unprecedented quantities of data to help address
important global issues," said Elain Gallin, program director for
medical research at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
"[It] will inspire us to look beyond the technological limitations
that have historically restricted us from addressing some of our most
intractable problems", she added.
IBM has donated the hardware, software, technical services and
expertise to build the basic infrastructure for the grid.
The computer company, working with United Devices, previously
developed the Smallpox Research Grid, which created linked together
more than two million volunteers from 226 countries to speed the
analysis of some 35 million drug molecules in the search for a
treatment for Smallpox.
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