Next Monday we will be having our first ever guest post (I know, I know, exciting right?). In anticipation of this great event and because it is loosely related I thought I would mention the following piece of incredible innovation humanity has shown.
Now ordinarily a game like this might be a quaint example of a clever scientist coming up with an innovative way to make his research more popular and understandable. However, this is not actually the primary aim of Foldit at all. The aim of Foldit is to use the insight and cleverness of the gamers to advance the science itself.
This sounds like a ridiculous idea, but as you can see in the video below, it turns out that the Foldit experiment isn't doing so badly.
And, as explained in this article at Nature News Blog, at an annual competition, intended for biochemists to predict the shapes of proteins, a team of Foldit players did surprisingly well. In fact, they made a genuine scientific discovery. From the article:
Foldit’s biggest success so far came after CASP9 [the annual competition], on an enzyme produced by a retrovirus called Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV). A player who goes by the name 'mimi' came up with a shape that would be accurate enough to serve as the basis for determining the real shape of the protein based on X-ray diffraction measurements
"The M-PMV structure had stumped scientists for a very long time before Foldit players made their breakthrough. This is the first example I know of game players solving a long-standing scientific problem," Baker wrote in an email.You can find the game itself here.
How is this related to the upcoming guest post? Hah, you'll have to come back next Monday if you want to know the answer to that. In the meantime, don't forget to read the comments and join in with the discussion relating to Michelle's post below.