Monday, April 30, 2007

Donate your excess computing power: Distributed Computing


I started fighting to find a cure for cancer, Alzheimer's and ALS; I haven't even finished my bachelor's degree. To do this I participated in a distributed computing project through Stanford called Folding @Home, http://folding.stanford.edu/. All I had to do was install their software which downloads protein folding problems and uses my computer's excesses processing power to solve them. I even get a cool GUI that shows me the protein while it is being folded in real time (note the picture on the left). They also have a site that explains the importance of the molecule that your computer is working on. I personally think that this whole thing is really cool and I am very excited to be participating in this. I hope others will share my enthusiasm and contribute to the cause as well, if not with Stanford's program then another one. At the end of this article is a wiki link that has some more examples of distributed computing problems and links to get involved.
Finding out how a protein folds is very important in determining its function and how it is able to react with other molecules. This information in turn can be used to explore possible cures or treatments for currently incurable ailments. I take pride that I can do my part in helping researchers study the properties of proteins. I am a huge fan of distributed computing and what it can do. To learn more about what distributed computing is or for links to more distributed computing projects check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_computing.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Yum, Sushi

I just got back from an incredible spring break in Boston and New York. In case you were wondering the picture to the left is me at the Boston aquarium. I am not really about to eat the poor little star fish.

I really need to stop asking people about what they do in life. I am one of those people who really listens and absorbs things. I am often fascinated by what is going on at the forefront of science and each time I hear about what project someone is working on for graduate work in whatever field I get sucked in. Next thing I know I start to plan out how exactly I am going to switch my majors yet again and take up whatever this new and exciting field is that I have just heard about.

Luckily for me and my school financiers I have realised this about myself. While I was in Boston I checked out the labs of my Girlfriend's sister and brother-in-law at MIT where they are both working on Graduate degrees. I was first introduced to Sal's (the Brother-in-law) lab. He is working on nano-scale coatings. May sound boring to the lay person but the applications for his work and his lab equipment were very cool. Next I visited Andréa's (the Sister) lab. She is working on nuclear Fusion as a possible alternative energy source. Through nuclear Fusion, one day we could all get the power we need from sea water. On top of how cool that idea is, her lab basically looked like a NASA rocket control room. It was very hard for me not to start thinking about my future as a physicist. Just to make sure that I still like what I do though I visited a lab at MIT that works on Genomics and Proteomics. They are doing things like searching for possible means of controlling HIV that do not enable the HIV to simply work up a resistance to the drugs. I must say, despite how cool Andréa and Sal's labs were I am still very much in love with Bioinformatics. The idea of coming up with a cure for cancer or aids is really appealing to me.

Just for you all I will throw in a picture I took of NYC at night while I was there. Enjoy...