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Guinness World Records is recognizing Stanford’s Folding@Home project as the largest distributed computing effort in the world. Distributed computing is becoming a popular method for scientists to get research done without purchasing time on a supercomputer. With distributed computing data is divided up between several computers, or in the case of the Folding@Home project hundreds of thousands of computers, via the Internet.

Using distributed computing the project has been able to acquire over one petaFLOPS of processing power. A lot of the credit for that goes to the Playstation 3 owners out there because over 670,000 consoles are currently contributing some of their processing power to the project (only when the owner isn’t playing a game). The PS3 accounts for roughtly 60% of all contributions to the project. You probably don’t realize what a huge number that is, so let’s put it into perspective. It’s estimated that 10,000 PS3’s working together has the same computational power as IBM’s BlueGene/L System, which is the fastest supercomputer in the world. Yeah, I think you get the idea now. ;)

So what’s Folding@Home all about? The project’s focus is on protein folding and misfolding, which is a known cause for serious illnesses:

Proteins are biology’s workhorses — its “nanomachines.” Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or “fold.”

Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. “misfold”), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

So go ahead and donate some of your processing power to the Folding@Home project, whether you only have a computer or a PS3. The software download for both can be found here, and by doing so you could be contributing to the next medical miracle.

[via CNet]