How online gamers are solving science’s biggest problems | Technology | The Observer
For all their virtual accomplishments, gamers aren\’t feted for their real-world usefulness. But that perception might be about to change, thanks to a new wave of games that let players with little or no scientific knowledge tackle some of science\’s biggest problems. And gamers are already proving their worth.
In 2011, people playing Foldit, an online puzzle game about protein folding, resolved the structure of an enzyme that causes an Aids-like disease in monkeys. Researchers had been working on the problem for 13 years. The gamers solved it in three weeks.
A year later, people playing an astronomy game called Planet Hunters found a curious planet with four stars in its system, and to date, they\’ve discovered 40 planets that could potentially support life, all of which had been previously missed by professional astronomers.
On paper, gamers and scientists make a bizarre union. But in reality, their two worlds aren\’t leagues apart: both involve solving problems within a given set of rules.
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