Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids that are capable of many things; from catalyzing biological activity, to physically supporting tissues. One of the first pieces of the puzzle in understanding a particular protein is to know about its 3D shape, or conformation. That's what Foldit does. Users are presented with a partially folded protein as determined by an algorithm. They use a number of tools built into the interface to align the protein's folds of amino acids until they find the lowest energy state. This is the shape a protein must have in order to perform its function.
The study authors notes that different players have different play styles. Some were adept at making large scale changes to approximate the final shape. Others had a knack for fine tweaking of the structure to find the perfect conformation. When gamers combined their skills, they accomplished some real science. Researchers in other fields are considering employing gamers in similar ways after the success of Foldit. The next time someone tells you you're wasting time playing games, tell them about this.
There's one thing I think of when Daylight Savings Time hits: zombies. Seriously. All that extra time in the dark just fuels the undead flames for an eventual takeover by our semi-bulletproof, plant-hating masters. It only makes sense, then, that I use this weekly freeware roundup column to provide you with some kind of effective training for fending off the gruesome hordes. And beyond that, you'll also find a few more fun freeware games to busy yourself with as the angry, moaning masses slowly overwhelm your pitiful human defenses.
Now that we've established the plot, let's check out the titles. A hearty mix of retro throwbacks, MMOs, and crazy puzzle games await your attention after the jump!