Want to do something concrete to help combat the global coronavirus epidemic? Then consider donating your computer’s processing power to Stanford’s Folding@Home project, which recently added coronavirus to its list of supported diseases.
Folding@Home is a distributed network designed to help medical researchers find a cure for select diseases.
The distributed system links together computers across the world and harnesses their surplus processing power. A team of researchers then use these extra computational resources to explore potential drug targets that’ll combat the 2019 coronavirus epidemic.
Specifically, Folding@Home is examining the structure of a spike protein that is used to bind the virus to the lungs where it does its damage. If researchers can model the structure of this protein, then they can develop a therapeutic antibody specific to coronavirus. This antibody will prevent the virus from binding to the lungs, thus reducing its ability to cause disease.
To help with this project, all you need to do is download the Folding@Home software and allow it to run in the background. It only taps into computer resources that are not being utilized, so it should not affect your computer’s performance. Folding@Home works on any 64-bit Mac (Core 2 Duo or later) running macOS 10.6 or later.
Folding@Home is similar to SETI@Home, a distributed computing platform used by UC Berkely to search for alien life. SETI just announced that it is shutting down at the end of March to focus on analyzing the data it has collected over the past 21 years. Hopefully, many of the SETI participants will continue volunteering their computer resources by downloading Folding@Home.