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Coronavirus

Use your computer’s processing power to help scientists cure COVID-19

The coronavirus has people around the world practicing social distancing. To stave off boredom, we’re all spending a lot more time online than ever before, but it’s negatively impacting those who need a good connection to work from their home offices.

Streaming content, online gaming and connecting tons of devices to your network put a burden on your local internet strength. Now imagine everyone doing this at the same time. Tap or click for ways to speed up your Wi-Fi during the pandemic.

But using the internet isn’t a bad thing. In fact, you can use your computer to join the fight to save lives from COVID-19 from the comfort and safety of your home. How? Well, it involves a Stanford University project that just might help us find a cure.

[email protected]

The [email protected] project uses power from thousands of networked PCs to form a virtual supercomputer. This supercomputer creates protein folding simulations. [email protected] has been used before to assist in research to find cures for diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Influenza and now, COVID-19.

If you’re interested in helping out, all you need to do is connect your computer to the [email protected] network, download the software, then go about your normal day. It’s slightly more involved than that, of course, but that’s the crux of it.

Let’s take a closer look at how the process works and how you can get involved.

How it works

As we mentioned, [email protected] uses thousands of computers all over the world to create a virtual supercomputer to aid in medical research. These simulations are crucial in the fight against viral illnesses because they help us understand how diseases work.

RELATED: Where do viruses come from?

The simulations recreate the “folding” patterns that occur as a virus’ protein molecules transform from a long chain of amino acids into a complex shape. Researchers need this data to determine how the virus works, which drugs can effectively treat it and what other treatments can be developed to fight it.

Unfortunately, creating these simulations takes a very very long time, even on advanced computers. This is why the Stanford scientists working on the project need help from outside computers. That’s where you come in.

Volunteer to sign up, load the [email protected] software onto your PC and walk away. Your computer will contact the Stanford central servers and, in turn, receive “work units” to complete when it’s not in use, is only running basic programs or you’re browsing the internet — tasks that don’t involve much CPU.

When you’re using your computer for more involved projects, [email protected] will not interfere, leaving you free to use your computer as usual.

Once your computer is done with its work units, it uploads the completed units to the Stanford server. This happens automatically. And that’s it — no difficult programs to navigate and no complex instructions.

Join the fight against COVID-19

So, you want to get involved with the project? Great. The work has already started and [email protected] reported, “One protein from 2019-nCoV, a protease encoded by the viral RNA, has already been crystallized.” Though it hasn’t led to an immediate cure, it’s a step in the right direction.

Let’s take a look at how you can help push the work forward. If you want to volunteer your idle computer time to help save lives from deadly viruses, here’s how it works:

  1. Visit foldingathome.org and download the software.
    • You can also create a username and pick a team to join, but it is not required.
  2. Decide whether to run the software manually or choose one of the many scripts that have been developed to automate the process.
    • The manual information is found here.
    • The automated information can be found here. There are several options available with clear explanations of how each works and where they originated.
  3. Once your software is downloaded, select the option to contribute to Any Disease, which allows your computer to help tackle coronavirus and other deadly viruses.

And that’s it! Now you’re a crucial partner in the scientific fight against the coronavirus. The more people who pitch in to help, the sooner we can stop this virus from destroying lives.

Interested in volunteering your time? Tap or click here to assist the blind and visually impaired.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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