Gamers outperform both scientists and algorithms in protein-folding race

protein folding gamers on top folditr
Gamers have managed to beat both professional scientists and specially designed AI algorithms in the latest attempt to discover how certain proteins fold. The victors achieved their victory by doing what they do best: playing video games.

If you’ve been around the internet for the past couple of decades, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of protein folding. That’s because projects like Folding@Home and Foldit have helped galvanize the public into aiding a complex and time-consuming task: figuring out how proteins do what they do.

Although the project at hand involved a simple puzzle game, the proteins folded by players could actually have a real bearing on science and that’s exactly what happened. Just shy of 470 gamers took on the task of folding the best proteins they could and went up against 61 undergraduates, a couple of trained crystallographers, a specially designed computer modelling program, and a pair of AI folding algorithms.

The gamers managed to beat them all.

Related: Here’s why you need the hands of a surgeon to beat Flappy Birds on hard

In the course of their victory, the gamers discovered the structure of a protein which may help prevent plaque formation — something that’s a key component in Alzheimer’s research. In addition, the model of competition and gamifying of a scientific endeavor that was followed has a lot of people excited. Many professors and teachers watching from afar are now considering Foldit and similar applications as potentially very effective learning and research tools.

“I’ve seen how much players learn about proteins from playing this game,” said postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, Scott Horowitz (via U-M news). “We spend weeks and weeks trying to jam this into students’ brains and Foldit players learn it naturally because it’s fun.”

Another point taken from this study is that there may be something to the unique “3-D mentality,” that the gamers have, from spending so much time projecting themselves into a virtual world. It may be that there are other scientific processes which could greatly benefit from the attention of some of the world’s best digital puzzle solvers.


Apple Music may sign up more exclusive artists with purchase of Platoon

Apple purchased London-based Platoon, which is a startup that helps independent musicians get discovered by major labels. The acquisition may help Apple Music sign up more exclusive artists.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.

If Core i5 CPUs are great for most, do you really need the extra power of an i7?

This guide is designed to help you decide whether you need the extra technological enhancements provided by the i7 core, or if the more affordable Core i5 will suit your needs. In the i5 vs. i7 battle, which is best for you?

Is your PC slow? Here's how to restore Windows 10 to factory settings

Computers rarely work as well after they accumulate files and misconfigure settings. Thankfully, with this guide, you'll be able to restore your PC to its original state by learning how to factory reset Windows.

The Titan RTX graphics card is nearly here. Here's what you need to know

The Nvidia Titan RTX is arguably the most powerful consumer graphics card ever made, even if it's not really aimed at consumers. It bridges the 2080 Ti and RTX Quadro cards with boat loads of power.

Leak reveals that Nvidia’s RTX 2060 gaming chipsets will be headed to laptops

The latest leaks of Nvidia's upcoming RTX 2060 have given performance benchmarks and further detail about the future chipset and its capabilities, while a RTX 2060 Max-Q variant has also been discovered for thin and light gaming machines.

Looking for an Apple MacBook below $900? Woot has you covered

If you're looking for a great deal on an Apple MacBook, then Amazon's Woot may just have what you have been seeking. It has Macbooks available for only $810 with Intel M3 CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSDs.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.

You could spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or buy one of these awesome laptops instead

Finding a decent laptop is easy, but finding one under $1,000 is a bit tricky. Luckily, we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking out a budget laptop. Here are some of our favorites, the best laptops under $1,000.

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…