help find a vaccine or cure for coronavirus

Using My Computer To Help Find a Coronavirus Vaccine

In Digital Technologies, Edge Computing, Health and Well Being, How to by Scott2 Comments

Do you want to help find a coronavirus vaccine?

There are two phrases that have become common place in our lives recently, “I hope you are well?” and “These are strange times we live in”.

The last few weeks have been scary, strange, weird and worrying. And I am sure we’ve not seen it all yet.

If you’re anything like me, then first you focus on protecting your family and your loved ones, but soon after that you want to do more.

I turned to LinkedIn for a little help on how to help.

Using Folding@Home to help fight Coronavirus COVID-19

searching for a vaccine for coronavirus covid-19 help at homeIf you’re in my age group, you might remember a programme called “SETI“. Essentially, back in the early days of the Internet and home computing, you could download a screen saver type of application that would crunch radio telescope data to help look for signs of extra terrestrial life whilst your computer was just sitting around doing nothing. It was all very exciting and many people I know contributed to this project for years.

From what I can tell, Folding@Home is a Stanford University project and is quite similar in some ways to SETI. But instead of looking for aliens, it uses your unused computing power to “fold proteins” to help find cures and vaccines etc for some of the world’s biggest health challenges, including cancer, Alzheimers,  and of course, the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

I have a bunch of computers sitting around not doing much, so this seems to make a lot of sense.

Getting going with Folding@Home

I wanted to get this running on the numerous Raspberry Pis I have laying around the house, but apparently those aren’t supported, so instead, I installed it on an old Mac. It works on Windows and Linux too.

First step is download the appropriate application from: https://foldingathome.org/start-folding/

Once installed, I then opened up the application to see what was going on. Not much really. But it seems that during this time, the Stanford University servers are dealing with a lot of people trying to get involved.

I could see from the logs something was trying to happen but there was a message saying “No Was available for this configuration”, which made me wonder what my “configuration” was. When I opened the configuration (the Configure button) I noticed it was set up to use “0” of my computer’s processors (CPUs), so I changed this and within a few minutes I was up and running! Contributing in the race to find a vaccine or cure to coronavirus.

help find a vaccine for coronavirus Covid-19

A snippet of my log file

As a nice little bonus, whilst it is running, you get a fascinating 3D animated model of the thing your computer is working on. Here’s a short clip of what’s on my machine.

Do you want to help find a coronavirus vaccine, too?

Whilst Folding@Home is amazingly being used by more than a million people at the moment,  I hope we can help increase that significantly – please share this article!

Help find a coronavirus covid-19 vaccine - share this page with friends

Note: Whilst researching the security of Folding@Home, I found a couple of articles warning that there are some unscrupulous scammers trying to trick you into installing fake software. See this link. Always make sure you download your software from the official Folding@Home site.

Comments

  1. Fascinating to see the well-lit areas of cooperation across the map. It would be nice to have the model shift location every now & then so we could glimpse all the continents at least once (can’t see Africa), but considering the purpose, that’s relatively unimportant

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