(Windows, Mac, and Linux clients available. Browser-only client available as well.)
What is [email protected]?
[email protected] is a software that you can run to help simulate portions of protein folding. The results are sent back to the centralized hub at Stanford and are used in research projects all over the country. Protein misfolding has been implicated in many diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cancer, mad cow disease, and more. Because proteins are such incredibly complex structures, and modeling all their potential interactions, foldings, and misfoldings would require such a massive amount of computing power, it's virtually impossible to do, especially among smaller labs that don't focus specifically in computer modeling. However, [email protected] is able to link together tons of smaller contributors (like us) and use our computers to help run these simulations. Researchers can submit specific scenarios they would like to test, and the [email protected] client will run those simulations.
Will this slow down my PC?
It doesn't need to. You can set limits on the resource usage of [email protected], and you can also set it only to run when your PC is idle. If you tried [email protected] in the past and were annoyed by constantly having to disable it every time you wanted to use your PC, the new idle feature is a lifesaver. There's been many updates to the client, improving it a lot, so I highly recommend checking it out again if you have in the past.
Will this use lots of electricity?
From their website:
Roughly, a CPU uses about as much power (watts) as a typical light bulb. Although power supplies on most computers are rated at 400 watts, average usage is lower. On average, a Pentium-type computer uses about 100 watts (if the monitor is off). So, the daily difference between off and running FAH is about 24×100 = 2.4 kWh. At $0.15 per kWh ( from PG&E here in California), this works out to about $0.36 per day. In general, lighting and climate control use a much larger share of household power than computers do. So the best bet for cutting costs and conserving energy would be to turn off lights, turn off your computer monitors (which use more power than a CPU), and turn down the heat.
Can I run this on Linux?
Yes. There are both 64 and 32 bit clients for Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, CentOS, Fedora and Redhat available here.
It'd be great to get the community team back up and running. Right now I run this on two machines - my desktop when it's idle, and my server (which is relatively low use) on low. The implications of running and contributing are very real, and you can even read about the projects that you're contributing to directly. For those whose lives are affected by the diseases being researched, and want to do something to help combat them, this is an easy and great way. It also reflects well on Level1Techs as a community, and is something tangible we can put our name to. I highly encourage everyone to take a look at this, and contribute if possible!
Thanks again to Wendell for taking the time to set up the Level1Techs team as well!