SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, pioneered the idea that PC users could donate computer time for complex data analysis via the
Internet. Now, IBM and top scientific research organizations plan to use SETI's approach to set up a World Community Grid to help solve the world's
most pressing problems - to find cures for the world's new out-of-control epidemic diseases - improve natural disasters forecasting - and help protect
the world's food and water supply. Where SETI was a "Power to the Nerds" movement, the World Community Grid is "Power of the People." It might just
save the planet.
IBM and top scientific research organizations are joining forces in a humanitarian effort to tap the unused power of millions of computers and help
solve complex health and social problems. ...The World Community Grid will seek to tap the vast underutilized power of computers belonging to
individuals and businesses worldwide and channel it into selected medical and environmental research programs.
Organizers say the Grid can help unlock genetic codes that underlie diseases like AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's or cancer, improve forecasting of natural
disasters and aid studies to protect the world's food and water supply.
The massive volunteer project will be unveiled Tuesday by Sam Palmisano, CEO of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), the world's largest
computer company, along with United Nations officials, researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Oxford University and South Africa, and others.
The first research will be into Human Proteome Folding, an effort to identify the structure of pathogenic proteins. There will be three to five
research projects a year, Sanford said.
The project owes a debt to SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which in the 1990s first popularized the notion that PC users could
donate computer time for radio telescope astronomy data analysis via the Internet.
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The World Community Grid can only be described as a noble - and necessary - effort. Three major world crises now are converging and about to explode
out of control - the mis-folded protein disease crisis, geographic instability and natural disasters, and the water/food crisis. They're about to
overwhelm the world's individual governments, but our leaders can't agree about what to do or where to start. The World Community Grid puts the power
in the hands of the people.
Human Proteome Folding tackles the world's biggest health problem head-on. Most modern diseases result from mis-folded proteins causing stem cell
mutations. Stem cells called "fibroblasts" mutate into "myofibroblasts," causing "fibrosis" that can occur in multiple organs and tissues. The disease
often mutates as it progresses, in response to "environmental" changes and exposure to other pathogens. The result is a range of other secondary
diseases including amyloidosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular and heart disease, obesity, AIDS and cancer. This will be the first major
research project to go straight to the underlying cause, rather than focusing on late-stage symptoms one at a time.
Research into mis-folded and possibly infectious proteins reached its zenith in 2000 - and then hit a political brick wall. The Human Proteome Folding
Project promises not only to revive this absolutely essential research, but bring it to fruition.
Human activity not only has affected human health but also, the planet's geophysical stability and weather patterns. The World Community Grid will
collect all the different information and analyse it to help forecast "natural" disasters.
We can expect new, concrete and publicly accessible
information about how oil and gas extraction, aquifer depletion and more have destabilized
geographical regions, and how. We will be told the truth about what the real impacts are, what's coming next, and where.
Changing weather patterns are causing super-storms, and these storms are increasing in frequency, duration and severity. The Grid will help predict
these storms and hopefully, give us the information we need to prepare and protect ourselves.
Fresh water on the earth is a finite resource. Again, human activity has over-used, wasted and depleted the resource - primarily for industrial
production. Most of the earth's fresh water now is gone, and cannot be replenished or replaced. In a nutshell, the world's fresh water supply is
threatened and as a result, so is our food supply. Droughts caused by human accelerated climate change and shifting weather patterns also threaten
The water crisis is about to explode in several regions of the world, including the US breadbasket. If there is any hope or way to solve the 'water
crisis' to benefit ordinary people rather than corporate industrial profits, combined computer power is it.
Right now, only the very very rich and multinational corporate powers are positioned to ride the wave when these three crises converge and explode.
The World Community Grid shifts the power base, and promises to help ordinary people help themselves.
Thumbs up to IBM and all the scientists, researchers and organizations supporting the World Community Grid. Power to the people.
ATS has many threads related to these crises. Here are a few.
These three did not fit into the slots provided:
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