Editor's Summary

5 August 2010

Many hands make light work

A natural polypeptide chain can fold into a native protein in microseconds, but predicting such stable three-dimensional structure from any given amino-acid sequence and first physical principles remains a formidable computational challenge. Aiming to recruit human visual and strategic powers to the task, Seth Cooper, David Baker and colleagues turned their 'Rosetta' structure-prediction algorithm into an online multiplayer game called Foldit, in which thousands of non-scientists competed and collaborated to produce a rich set of new algorithms and search strategies for protein structure refinement. The work shows that even computationally complex scientific problems can be effectively crowd-sourced using interactive multiplayer games.

News FeatureCitizen science: People power

Networks of human minds are taking citizen science to a new level, reports Eric Hand.


LetterPredicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game

Seth Cooper, Firas Khatib, Adrien Treuille, Janos Barbero, Jeehyung Lee, Michael Beenen, Andrew Leaver-Fay, David Baker, Zoran Popović & Foldit players