Foldit Gamers FTW

Foldit Gamers FTW


Gather ’round everybody, because I’ve got some excellent news!
You do not have to be a scientist to be better at science than a computer whose job it is to do science.
You – yes, you – are better at recognizing spatial relationships than computer programs whose job
it is to recognize spatial relationships.
Congratulations!
And, uh, you know who’s even better than normal people at this stuff?
Video gamers.
Okay, uh, get out your phone real quick, uh, I’m going to dictate a text message to your mom.
Dear mom, video games are too contributing to the wellbeing of society.
[blows raspberry]
You were wrong. Your adoring child, and then you can put your name.
Because gamers are actually using their mad Super Mario Brothers Wii skills to recognize patterns in nature
and to crack the codes of microscopic matter.
Case in point!
There’s this organization called Foldit that puts gamers to work figuring out how proteins fold up into their most
stable and most useful states.
So you’ve probably hear of proteins, but usually in a dietary context, as just like one of the things that we eat
in the form of soy or cow, depending on your preference, but proteins are basically the stuff that makes us work.
Proteins do tons of different jobs; they will, for example, help me digest, uh, this hot pocket.
Also the proteins! They’ll–they’ll digest the proteins in this hot pocket.
It’s just meta.
You may be noticing that I–we build in lunch to my scripts.
So some proteins help break down this hot pocket that I’m eating into useful energy, some of them make up my
fingernails, and some of them help the buts of fireflies glow.
But proteins are actually really extremely complicated structures; they’re made up of long chains of amino
acids, and for the most part, it’s those amino acids that define what their shape is going to be.
But proteins don’t exist as long chains.
As soon as they’re formed, they fold up into themselves, into mysterious shapes.
They fold up for stability, but the way that they fold defines how they operate and what they do.
And it’s really tough to figure out how a protein is going to fold up, and–and so we spend a lot of money and time
trying to figure this out, one, by having computers do it, two, by actually trying to look at the protein while it’s
functioning to see if we can actually see its shape – which, turns out, it’s very hard to do – because
understanding how a protein folds up is key to understanding how that protein works, and if it’s a
disease protein, it’s a key to understanding how to stop that protein.
So scientists have been developing computer programs for years that try and figure out how proteins fold up in
their most stable states, but it turns out computers are just bad at that kind of stuff, and people are really
good at it, especially people who have, uh, developed their spatial reasoning skills through hours and hours of
video game playing.
And so the organization Foldit figured out that the best solution to this problem was to turn protein folding into
a video game.
Foldit is specifically looking into proteins and disease-causing organisms like viruses and bacterium, because
in order to stop a protein you have to know how it works, and you have to have its structure before you can know
how it works.
In the video game, gamers play competitively to see who can fold the protein into the most stable state, and
they’re kicking ass at it.
So for instance, there’s this age-related enzyme that scientists have been trying to figure out the structure of
for about a decade.
When all the normal computational methods for unlocking the structure of the enzyme failed, they gave
it to Foldit gamers to figure out.
And it took them about three weeks to figure it out.
Scientists have since been able to completely determine the structure of the protein, and they now think that they
understand enough about it to actually start developing drugs to turn it off.
In the meantime, the paper that was published describing these findings listed the scientists and the
gamers as co-authors, and that’s pretty freaking cool.
Humanity, for all of my hours and hours of video game playing, I say to you, you’re welcome.
If you want to download Foldit and try your hand at helping make the world better through video game
playing, there’s a link in the description.
There’s also links to more articles about this wonderful advance and the use of video games to make the world
a better place.
If you have suggestions for stuff we should talk about or questions, you can see us on Facebook and Twitter,
Facebook and Twitter or Twitter and Facebook, I don’t know, but they’re over there, and you can find us, you can
also always find us in the comments of youtube videos, uh, where we will be answering questions and, uh,
seeing how you’re doing.

100 thoughts on “Foldit Gamers FTW”

  1. I will proceed to fold this protein; when it is solved, a treasure chest containing the boss key will drop from the ceiling. Or it will be the hookshot; I forget which.

  2. you know there are actually corporations who basically do nothing but science? engineering firms, technology providers, R&D labs, science is often at the core of business.

  3. the reason why we didnt find the cure to AIDS the moment it appeared is because even tho a lot of people learn many things and hang many papers on their walls they easily get in to unproductive mind frames

  4. wow I really got negitive votes? wow you guys do not get sarcasm… I was parroting the points they,, nevermind

  5. no shit Sherlock its a business! EVERYTHING they do is for profit, I meant science is at the core of how they MAKE money.

  6. Now make a video about how tower defense games and online arena games improve team building and managerial skills.

  7. Now if my mom asks me why I waste my time playing video games I'll just tell her its for the name of science xD

  8. Next time my mom tells me to stop playing that game, I'll say "I'm busy stopping cancer, AIDS, and HIV".

  9. has anyone heard of yourgamerbox, they had a promotion going on to win a free game and free food, just pick a number between 1- 1000,there on facebook and twitter

  10. Am I the only one who has noticed that the image of Hank digesting a hot pocket has his stomach where his liver should be? Was it being reflected?

  11. Video games really do make you a better person.
    Except if it goes to a level that it stresses you or you get too addicted.
    Otherwise, it's a beautiful thing <3

  12. the people that find cures for diseases and illnesses use Evolution to understand the background of them which helps them know how to kill them

  13. No the stomach should be on Hank's left side. And yes the liver is partly in front of the stomach but still more towards the right of the body.

  14. well, when they give more info about it, maybe this might deserve some coverage:
    /watch?v=L4hf8HyP0LI

    Its about Voyager 1 leaving the Heliosphere

  15. I think that we underestimate the human brain nowadays. It is a super computer. Not only that, it lives! Because our conscience is a product of all our senses, hosted by the brain. Honestly, I think that the only problem with a brain is communication. All it has to go on, when trying to communicate info is human memory, which is equivalent  to some semi-faulty RAM. This is not applicable to these video games, however, because other people get the actual info, instead of some weird, spotty description. Still, there are a few things we can't replace with robots. Bus drivers, for example. A robot wouldn't know if some people were up to no good on the bus and even if it did, it would not be able to properly handle it. Human relations is a matter far too complex for a directive-based organism built by a directive-based organism. Even if a robot would drive, you'd need a bus guard, a human one.

  16. …and here is the OCOLUS RIFT (is that right?) that makes 3D gaming fun…
    there are games for that kind of device and they are focused on getting the players feel like it's the real world. I usually play all the games that are out (serious games), big and small developers, and usually I like building games, because they really make you think about the shape and look. I think I'm pretty good at video games that have 3D . and also it's good for my English improvement.

  17. Fan of sci show but did not know this video existed. Just been researching up on fold it and it's successor. I find this stuff just amazing and wish that there were more like this out there

  18. Just starting playing Foldit. Such an awesome game! I'm really happy to be able to contribute something to humanity through this!!! 🙂

  19. omg thank you so much. I remembered something exactly like this but I was never able to remember the name now I know once more yay. so happy 

  20. Now I wait for the next time someone says:
    "You should be out curing cancer or something, not playing video games."

  21. could you theoretically unfold a protein and change its shape to turn it into a different kind of protein? or once its folded is it stuck as that protein?

  22. Proteins do:
    Function Example
    ————————————————-
    Control all reactions Enzymes
    Provide structure Keratin
    Transport Hemoglobin
    Movement Muscle protiens
    Defense Antibodies
    Storage Eggs & beans
    Communication Hormones & feremones

    P.S. This is a part of my biology test I have tomorrow.
    And I got bored.
    I tried to tab, but YouTube doesn't even let me copy & paste it.

  23. if this game adds an ebola last level and some random choosen one gamers cures it and other hard uncurable dieseases everything will be saved

  24. Here are the links that don't lead to instagram:
    (AIDS puzzle)
    http://techland.time.com/2011/09/19/foldit-gamers-solve-aids-puzzle-that-baffled-scientists-for-decade/
    (HIV enzyme article)
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/foldit-gamers-solve-riddle/

  25. Why is Hank drawing parallels between this video and his crash course (the hot pockets) and what happened to his facial hair?

  26. Foldit is shit, i got rid of all gaps and my score is 8115 . But when someone on youtube finishes the level on 8500 score with multiple gaps i just gotta KMS..

  27. I'm at 3:26 and I've already jumped in excitement, downloaded it and told my teacher about this game in this short span of time.
    You guys must also try eyewire, a similar game that uses human pattern recognition and crowdsourcing to speed up research

  28. Hey Hank can you do me a big favor

    i have a date tonight eat some hot pockets so the fire flies butts glow nice

    thank you

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