Welcome to Matter Anti-Matter, a site about nerd stuff. By day, I'm Head of Community at Kickstarter.
You can also find me here .
I hope those 400 employees go on to make the games they’ve always wanted to make, supported directly by the people who play them.
Where Scientists Fail, Gamers Succeed
For 15 years, scientists struggled to figure out the molecular structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. Deciphering the structure, they believed, could lead to an HIV/AIDS cure.
As they hit dead ends, a few began to think differently, crowdsource the issue and created a multiplayer game within Foldit, a science-based gaming engine.
Ten days later, non-scientist gamers discovered the key researchers had long been looking for.
Via MSNBC’s Cosmiclog:
The problem is that enzymes are far tougher to crack than your typical lock. There are millions of ways that the bonds between the atoms in the enzyme’s molecules could twist and turn. To design the right chemical key, you have to figure out the most efficient, llowest-energy configuration for the molecule — the one that Mother Nature herself came up with.
That’s where Foldit plays a role. The game is designed so that players can manipulate virtual molecular structures that look like multicolored, curled-up Tinkertoy sets. The virtual molecules follow the same chemical rules that are obeyed by real molecules. When someone playing the game comes up with a more elegant structure that reflects a lower energy state for the molecule, his or her score goes up. If the structure requires more energy to maintain, or if it doesn’t reflect real-life chemistry, then the score is lower.
Writes Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, and his colleagues in a paper published in Nature Structual & Molecular Biology (PDF):
Although much attention has recently been given to the potential of crowdsourcing and game playing, this is the first instance that we are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem.
How many scientific problems could we potentially solve with games?
Are you suffering from Post-Avatar Depression (P.A.D.)?
CNN is either taking a page from Comedy Central and running great deadpan sketch comedy, or they actually analyzed this “story” for a solid 4 minutes and 25 seconds.
Either way, I’m enjoying the expert commentary:
“James Cameron’s CGI effects are so good that you’re actually transported onto the planet Pandora so you take off the glasses and there’s a disconnect and that’s what’s making people more depressed”
Lady, you haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what makes Avatar depressing.
After watching 31 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist over a period of 3 days, this story is especially exciting for automail enthusiasts.
Larry Charles, director of “Borat” and “Bruno,” will be filming a prototype (whatever happened to the pilot?) of a new semi-scripted sci-fi based comedy for NBC. According to Variety,
The Untitled project centers on a group of sci-fi fanboys in a small town who shoot their own version of a canceled TV show. Charles is onboard to write, exec produce and direct the project.
Is NBC hoping to capitalize on its Syfy brand’s recent successes? Given that CBS’s geek-centered Big Bang Theory has done so well, NBC may be hoping it can bring some life back to its primetime lineup.
In my ongoing hunt for any news about the forthcoming Stargate Atlantis movie, I used Babel Fish to translate a page from the French site Unification. While I’m uncertain that the page revealed anything more than the expected title “Stargate: Extinction,” it did provide this juicy bit:
“Stargate: Extinction wants to be as hooker as the preceding titles of SG-1, the Arch of Truth and Continuum.”
I’m sure if Stargate: Extinction is anything, it’s HOOKER!