Of course I don't mean that literally,. Nonetheless, the Folding@Home Playstation 3 app did introduce me to something I've only begun to learn now in college biology, 5 years after first starting the app.
Before I continue, for those who don't know about it or have never though to press that X button for themselves, Folding@Home is a Playstation 3 app that simulates the complex processes involved in folding a protein, a macromolecule vital all of life. The data this simulation gathers would normally require a supercomputer to process, but that's where the processing powerhouse that the is the Playstation 3 comes in.
Folding@Home is a project based at Stanford University that makes use of distributed computing. What's that, you ask? Distributed computing is basically combining the relatively-weak processing power of individual computers across the world that run the Folding@Home program in order to process, sort, and analyze massive amounts of data that would otherwise only be able to be broken down by a supercomputer the size of a room.
What exactly is the data that is gathered? The Stanford University Folding@Home team launched the project in order to study if the improper folding of proteins, which dictates unique function that the protein will perform, leads to diseases like Alzheimer's and many other diseases.
With that in mind, Sony partnered with the Folding@Home team at Stanford University to create the Playstation 3 app that I have been talking about. To date, the immense data-crunching capabilities of the PS3's cell processor has helped the project come to many conclusions about the function and folding pattern of various proteins, but there's always plenty more to discover.
Okay, back to my actual story: When I started the app for the first time and thereon afterwards, the app let me view the folding processes in different models, such as space-filling and ball-and-stick models. These models are now an integral part of my Biology and Organic Chemistry courses, and are thus tihngs that I have surprisingly been exposed to already through the app in the past, but I never realized nor understood it until today.
Thank you, Sony, for wanting to make such an impact on such an important research project. Long. Live. Playstation.