I have to admit that I have a fondness for getting people to enjoy and get involved in science (making it fun is best!). A really good site, for example, is Science for Citizens, who have a long list of projects people can get involved in, but have also reached out to facebook and phone apps to track wildlife sightings and educate users about what they are seeing as well.
So I was excited to see these two stories show up in my news lately;
The first, a story about how gamers were able to determine the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus. Some of the highlights:
…[A] microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that “unfolds” the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.
This is where Foldit comes in.
Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.
That is the part that is most interesting to me, that despite how fast computers can crunch numbers and data, there are still some things the human brain can do better (in this case, according to the article, spatial reasoning).
The next one is a bit more fun (although I can’t say I played Foldit, so I wouldn’t know); an “altered-reality” combination app/podcast that encourages you to run, while gaining benefits in-game.
That one I am excited for, because I hate running. I rely a lot on hyping myself up different ways, and I have to say, fast-zombie films are one of them. (Rule #1: Cardio.)
So! Not the best post I’ve ever written, but I’m a bit anxious for my upcoming adventures at SATE 2011! Probably coming up next… putting together the sound effect system for my Halloween costume’s prop.