We need more science majors!!! What he said...
I'm not a scientist and I'm too old to become one...well, not really, but it's highly impossible at my age (>50)...so, excuse me while I wax eloquent...
I don't volunteer in the community as much as I should...in fact, I don't volunteer at all. I only found out about folding when I joined OCN (as a way to help me get more out of my gaming machine, a lowly 2600K w/two mediocre video cards). I used some older machines, P5s and P6s years ago, as SETI workhorses but that didn't last long since I was moving a lot in the military. But that was then, I've since retired, this is now.
After reading as much as I have on OCN and other OC sites, and as fascinating as I find space exploration and the thought of intelligent life outside our solar system, think SETI again, I think I have found a new calling and I find that spending my money on folding systems provides me with an opportunity to volunteer once again and it doesn't come at a high cost of either time or money.
Sure, it does cost money: computers cost money, electricity money, and time is precious and unrecoverable; but that "time" that we hold precious for ourselves is even more precious to others who are dying due to the lack of research efforts, or the lack of money to hire more scientists or to buy more supercomputer time, etc. to solve the medical mysteries that could hold the cure for their ailments. I can't and won't be saving anyone working in a science lab, but I can donate my computers and maybe help save someone's life some day. I've lost friends over the years, no really close friends, but the one's that I have lost have mostly died from diseases that could be cured if enough time, money, and even computing power were thrown into the cause.
So, that being said, I'm starting to fold. As I previously stated, I only had one computer to fold with before, my lowly 2600k that I game with mostly, but now I have five more that I threw together with spare parts, and used parts I bought from some of you here on OCN, one 4P machine that I bought with some excess funds (I sold a car), and the makings for second 4P in the coming months. I'm not in this for fame or glory in folding--hell, I can't even OC a computer correctly to tell you the truth--so my efforts will be limited to running all seven systems, once I get enough power to my basement so I can run all of them, 24/7/365 until they die and I replace them. Just as water and wind erode and reshape the face of planets, with enough time, and enough computers, we CAN help.
Yes, I have my calling now and it didn't take anyone in my immediate family dying to spur me into action. What it's taken was for me to join a community of people of a like mind and to discover how they are helping in their own limited way.
Whew...I'm off the soapbox. Go forth and fold my friends!
Originally Posted by Zeraphil
In college we have the whole genetics center running fold@home. I'm waiting for my WC setup so I can join the OCN team!
Look for the Society for Bioinformatics, and resources on molecular computational biology. This application helps, it's an active part of science, and if you read more about what is exactly a protein, the wonders and understanding for folding grows!
It is the 3D configuration that the protein has that gives it its functionality. This 3D spatial config is denominated by the amount of amino acids (which can be up to a hundred), which amino acids there are (which are about 20 in total, polar and non polar, acid and basic) and in -what- sequence you encounter them (also, the pH of the enviroment its in as well!)! Take a macromolecule such as a histone. It forms a H2AH2B dimer and a H3H4 tetramer to construct the nucleosomes that compact DNA to about 50,000 times the space of the total unpacked molecule.
If you ask me, that's crazy. So we have a component of 6 proteins, about 135 amino acids in each, 20 possible amino acids in each slot, and in a specific order that gives it that specific 3D form that will fit with a second similar protein, making a dimer, which will interact with a similar four protein complex to fulfill it's job. Do the math. That's a *****load of information, and of all the possible conformations that a single protein can achieve, only a fraction actually give it the structural properties required to carry out its function in any given condition.
All of this makes my head swirl and my heart jump. We take simple activites for granted, but what's behind the opening of a hand or the focusing of our eyes is great and complex is a wonder we can do it at all!!!
Ok... enough of my starry eyed rant. I just love proteomics *sob*