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Video Gamers Help Cure AIDS

Video Gamers Help Cure AIDS

Using an online game called Foldit, gamers have solved a molecular puzzle that has baffled scientists for many years. The success of this puzzle could possibly help to cure a variety of diseases in the future, including AIDS. Foldit was released in 2008 and now has roughly 240,000 registered players. The game is played by manipulating virtual structures that look like springy tinker-toys or curled up pipe cleaners. In the case of molecular enzymes, atomic bonds can twist and turn in a number of ways. However for the chemical balance to work, the lowest and most efficient configuration must be used, so this was applied to the games parameters.

The puzzle itself works like a game of hot and cold; When a player is closer to the proper setup, their score goes up and while they are further away, the score goes down. The particular puzzle that the gamers solved was that of a monkey virus, which is one of seven puzzles introduced by scientists into the game. It was solved by a group of around a dozen gamers in little over a week. Something that had eluded scientists for years solved in just one week! While this is a fantastic breakthrough for both the scientific and gaming communities, I can only hope that this achievement will silence the critics who advocate that video games rot your brain. In fact, we gamers just may possibly save some lives and I’m not talking about 1-UPs.