Christmas: The Season of Goodwill, Family, Friendship and Folding

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When you relax at Christmas time, a stomach full of turkey/lamb/chicken/vegetarian alternative and a glass full of wine, you will probably feel pretty content. Christmas is a great time to relax and spend time with people we often don’t spend enough time with and we do things for people we wouldn’t usually do. We spend money on people we may rarely see, we send cards to relatives in other states, countries and even continents.

So what else can we do at Christmas, that we may not have done recently, or even at all? How about folding? No, put down the paper, I do not mean origami ;). I mean a project that makes you part of a team – one of the best, friendliest, and most fun teams involved – as well as making a valuable contribution to science.

[email protected], for those that don’t know what it is, is a massive distributed computing project run by the folks at the Pande Group at Stanford University. They want to look at how proteins (one of the most important groups of chemical that your body makes and uses and needs) get themselves ready to do the job they do. When they don’t do this properly, bad things happen – Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, to name but a few – which can cause pain, suffering, severe drops in quality of life, and even death for those affected. It is hoped that once it is understood exactly how proteins assemble, we can work towards finding a way to stop them from assembling incorrectly. This may lead to cures for the horrible diseases that protein ‘misfolding’ can inflict on people.

So how do you get involved? All you need to do is run a small program – not malicious, not spyware, not adware, not a virus or Trojan horse – which only kicks into action when your PC would otherwise not be used to it’s full potential. It does some simulations on a tiny piece of the puzzle and returns the completed unit to Stanford when it’s done. With thousands of work units returned to Stanford each and every day there are currently thousands of computers working on the puzzle, but still more are needed. You just need to grab the client program from the ‘Download’ section of, install it, and choose any user name you want. If you want to join team then put ’32’ in the team box :). The client will then download a chunk of work to process, which will not adversely affecting anything else you are doing on the PC.

If you need any more help setting it up or running the client, feel free to drop into the Folding Team Forum at or visit the IRC channel at #octeams on :).

Have a nice Christmas folks, and a happy New Year!

David Nelson
OC Forums Moderator / [email protected] Team Leader Team 32: [email protected]

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