Layperson asks: Folding@Home worthwhile?

guanxi guanxi_i at
Fri Mar 1 11:24:54 EST 2002

Hi,  I work in IT (info technology / computers) and have a good
understanding of molecular biology, for a layperson.  I'm hoping you
might share some informed opinions about Folding at Home

Folding at Home ( installs a small program on
your computer.  It uses your CPU when its idle -- which is most of the
time for most people -- to solve computationally intensive protein
folding problems, then transmits the results back to the researchers. 
The technology is similar to SETI at Home or, if you're
familliar with those.

My question is, how likely is it that this project will provide some
significant benefit to the world?

The distributed computing technology intrigues me, and I have an idea
what protein folding is and that it's useful knowledge, but I have no
idea if I'm wasting CPU cycles on this particular project.  I could
use them for something more practical, like finding broadcasts from
intelligent alien lifeforms (i.e. SETI).

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