How to earn a No­bel Prize on your cof­fee break

Guru Magazine - - Medicine -

The web­site eteRNA has the motto “Played by Hu­mans. Scored by Na­ture”. This crowd­sourc­ing site takes a puz­zle-based ap­proach to get­ting users to an­a­lyze ri­bonu­cleic acid (RNA) – cru­cial ge­netic mol­e­cules that help in the cre­ation of pro­teins in the body. EteRNA aims to cre­ate a li­brary of syn­thetic RNA de­signs, which will even­tu­ally be used to con­trol disease-caus­ing bac­te­ria and viruses. Not that you need to know any­thing about such things: game­play in­volves twist­ing click­able mul­ti­coloured chains (RNA) into dif­fer­ent shapes to score points. It’s a sur­pris­ingly ad­dic­tive puz­zle with a real-time high score fea­ture and other per­for­mance in­dices. Plus – wait for it – your RNA de­sign could be se­lected for lab syn­the­sis, giv­ing you su­per-sci­ence sta­tus. In a sim­i­lar vein to eteRNA, the web­site Fold-It uses crowd­sourc­ing to build bet­ter pro­teins. Af­ter a short tu­to­rial, users are given real three-di­men­sional pro­teins to dig­i­tally bend, crin­kle, and fold into bizarre con­for­ma­tions. They are then awarded points based on the size, prop­er­ties, and pos­si­ble func­tion of their folded prod­uct – essen­tially, whether their pro­tein is any good for real life use. En­cour­ag­ingly, some of the find­ings from Fold-It have been pub­lished in prom­i­nent sci­en­tific jour­nals, which is a tan­gi­ble re­sult from the ef­forts of ‘cit­i­zen sci­en­tists’. (Find dozens more ‘ cit­i­zen sci­ence’ projects, online or oth­er­wise, at scis­tarter.com)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from International

© PressReader. All rights reserved.