Join the World Community Grid


An effortless way for Humanists to make a lasting contribution to human progress is through donation of spare CPU cycles. So far, hundreds of thousands of users have donated hundreds of thousands of years of computer time at no cost to themselves (except electricity). These projects have been around for a while, so there are probably few people who don’t know about them. But all these projects are not created equal. The best I’ve found is the World Community Grid. WCD is averaging about 200 years of computing time per day. In total, WCD has already accumulated over 100,000 years of computing time on projects of vital interest to humanity.

I urge everyone to go over there right now and sign up! Click on the become a member tab, then download and install the application. Don’t wait, do it now! As the old cliche goes, “the life you save may be your own.” But this time, it’s actually true. It’s free, it’s fun, it won’t hurt or slow down your machine, and it helps you feel better about leaving your machine on all the time (if you do, especially at your workplace). Also, once you have downloaded and installed the application, please go to this link and join the Black Sun Journal team.

Black Sun Journal receives no compensation for people joining the team. Just bragging rights that we are doing something real and tangible to reduce human suffering and disease. World Community Grid is currently working on the following projects:


hiv protease inhibitor

Prof. Arthur J. Olson’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is studying computational ways to design new anti-HIV drugs based on molecular structure. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that the function of a molecule — a substance made up of many atoms — is related to its three-dimensional shape. Olson’s target is HIV protease (“pro-tee-ace”), a key molecular machine of the virus that when blocked stops the virus from maturing. These blockers, known as “protease inhibitors”, are thus a way of avoiding the onset of AIDS and prolonging life. The Olson Laboratory is using computational methods to identify new candidate drugs that have the right shape and chemical characteristics to block HIV protease. This general approach is called “Structure-Based Drug Design”, and according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, it has already had a dramatic effect on the lives of people living with AIDS.

Human Proteome Folding – Phase 2

hbond helix

Human Proteome Folding Phase 2 (HPF2) continues where the first phase left off. The two main objectives of the project are to: 1) obtain higher resolution structures for specific human proteins and pathogen proteins and 2) further explore the limits of protein structure prediction by further developing Rosetta software structure prediction. Thus, the project will address two very important parallel imperatives, one biological and one biophysical.

HPF2 will focus on human-secreted proteins (proteins in the blood and the spaces between cells). These proteins can be important for signaling between cells and are often key markers for diagnosis. These proteins have even ended up being useful as drugs (when synthesized and given by doctors to people lacking the proteins). Examples of human secreted proteins turned into therapeutics are insulin and the human growth hormone. Understanding the function of human secreted proteins may help researchers discover the function of proteins of unknown function in the blood and other interstitial fluids.

The project also will focus on key secreted pathogenic proteins. While still in its early design phases, HPF2 will likely focus on Plasmodium, the pathogenic agent that causes malaria. Researchers hope that higher resolution structure predictions for the proteins that malaria secretes will serve as bioinformatics infrastructure for researchers who are working hard around the world to understand the complex interaction between human hosts and malaria parasites. While there are few silver bullets, and biology is one of the most complicated subjects on earth, researchers believe that this work will help it understand elements of this host-pathogen interaction or at least its components. Researchers will provide their findings as a resource to the scientific community and then work with the community on visualizing, using and refining the data. This understanding could then be a foundation for intervention.

Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy

The Decrypthon and FAAH projects are alike in that they both use computer programs which simulate the docking of two compounds/molecules together to see how well they bind to each other. FAAH is searching through many compounds that bind to a certain portion of an enzyme (a protein) called HIV protease needed by the HIV virus to replicate. If a compound is found that strongly attaches to a certain part of the HIV protease, it prevents it from functioning and thus keep HIV from replicating. The Decrypthon project is also docking molecules, but doing this among all of the proteins, genes (DNA), and potential drugs (ligands) that seem to play a role in neuromuscular diseases. This is being done to better understand what specific roles all of these proteins play in both normal and disease processes.

Fiocruz Genome Comparison

Genome comparison

Only a fraction of the predicted protein content encoded in completely sequenced genomes has actually had their biological function and expression confirmed through laboratory analysis. The assignment of predicted biological functions and structural features to raw sequence data is called annotation, and is accomplished mostly by comparing them to predicted proteins or protein coding genes with information stored in different public domain databases around the world. However, annotation is often incomplete, uses non-standardized nomenclature or can be incorrect when inferred from previous incorrectly annotated sequences. Thus, an all against all controlled comparative database would be of great use as a reference.

I have had the grid software installed on several of my machines since May 2001. I’ve contributed well over 20 years of computer time since then. The original United Devices project ended in April 2007. The work was then switched over to the World Community Grid.

The computing time really adds up. Here are my final stats for the United Devices project:

ud stats

Comments (3 comments)

Doris Tracey / July 31st, 2007, 9:02 am / #1

This is a wonderful way to find cures for disease without using mankind and animals for torturous experiments. Do you have to keep your computer on all the time?

BlackSun / July 31st, 2007, 9:26 am / #2

You don’t have to keep your computer on all the time. But whenever it’s on, the process keeps working in the background.

valhar2000 / August 16th, 2007, 5:26 am / #3

Well, I have it on two of my computers now, the two that are always on. I hope good things will come of this.

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