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carp's picture
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Question. Do you guys consistently at the top have some knowledge of the science? It would be nice to see a show of hands.

ferzle's picture
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None at all.

None at all.

feet1st's picture
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Not formally

I just read a lot on Rosetta@home.

Joined: 11/16/2007
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I do - I work on an anti-HIV

I do - I work on an anti-HIV project at the University of Washington, and fool around with the game in my spare time. I'd say having a bit of background with the science is handy for the game, but definitely not required (as demonstrated by the other fine folks at the top who don't do this sort of thing for a living).

Joined: 05/10/2008
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Probably unnecessary in this stage

Considering the fact that the game doesn't give you that much technical information to handle (and considering the fact that rules of protein folding aren't even readily available to professionals in the field), formal biological training wouldn't really be *that* helpful. Besides, most people that go into/beyond graduate level bio/chem/biochem don't deal with explicit protein structure anyways.

daemonk's picture
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I have a background in

I have a background in genetics and mostly nucleotide work, but nothing really in protein folding/biochemistry. I pretty much agree with the above post. There aren't any established rules in the community to make the scientists better at this than any other profession.

Joined: 08/01/2008
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Nothing but minor textbook knowledge

I was a bio major in college and love science.  But I don't have any knowledge related to protein folding per se.  I'm an avid gamer and am always looking for puzzles to torment my brain with.

Then again, I'm not at the top either LOL.  


Guyoni's picture
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none at all, just a love of video games

Diderot's picture
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If you have any knowledge

If you have any knowledge that might help others, please share it at the wiki.

Brick's picture
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If anyone has ANY knowledge of what the hell is oging on with this so-called scientific project, please let the rest of us in the dark know what's going on....

Joined: 05/26/2008
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Sort of

Well, my knowledge on the subject is very limited. Prior to starting here I would say it was close to none at all.
The attraction for me was the fact that they were doing CASP puzzles, and I have done them on distributed computing projects such as Rosetta@Home and POEM@Home. I thought it would be fun to try them myself.
Through playing the game, and reading up a bit, I've learned a lot more. Visiting the UofW and seeing what goes on behind the scenes, I was both humbled by what is being done, and excited about the future of the project.
First off, I would like to say, this is just my opinion from what I've seen and done.
The game is a great learning tool, and I encourage anyone playing it, first read through the wiki, some of the information is dated as the game has changed some through it's short history but it is a great start. Afterwards, pick up a book, (or find a good site online, but many have dated or erroneous information) and try to learn a little at a time. Seeing the proteins really helps with understanding the concepts that you will read about.
The folding of the puzzles is one part of the game, I think the real excitement will come in the future when we get the opportunity to design our own. I do not know how long it will take for development of that phase of the project, but the folding portion will lead to new tools and innovations that will take them closer to that goal.
Keep in mind that scientific research often goes on for very long periods of time without results, in this world of information technology it's difficult to think of waiting 6 months for results, but it's my belief that the CASP targets will provide the true test of the effectiveness of human folding power. That being said, CASP came very early in the history of FoldIt. Most players were still attempting to learn the tools effectively, and new tools were itnroduced during CASP. Were the CASP puzzles presented now, I think we would generate much better results. So when the results are published, keep this in mind, we did good, but probably could have done much better.
FoldIt is great software, but it is still early in it's development. There is much more to come, and I think those that are doing well now, will have an easier learning curve in the future.

Intuition and experimentation can get you pretty far in this game, but enhancing that with real world knowledge helps a lot. Just never get hung up on a single idea or concept, and don't be afraid to bend the rules that you have learned to try new things. Think of rules mroe as generalizations rather than hard rules set in stone.
The best analogy I can think of  goes something like this:
One day we discovered screws. We invented the screwdriver, and found that when we place the screw on wood, and turned the screwdriver the screw would penetrate the wood, and could be used to hold 2 pieces of wood together. Later we discovered another type of screw, and after some experimentation we found that we could change the screwdriver slightly from - to + and the screw worked the same way. A while later we came across something different. It had threads like a screw, but no place to insert a screwdriver. After many long months of research, we discovered that it was made for holding metal together and we needed an entirely different tool to turn it. This tool we called a socket, and the object a bolt. It follows the same principles as a screw, but in a different way. So we have written this rule, that if an object has threads on it, it is meant to go into something else and hold two things together, and we need to discover the proper tool to drive it in. Now we have this new discovery, it is much larger than the screws and bolts, but also has threads. We have been working for years to try to find a way to place a tool in or on it, but to no avail. It simply does not seem to follow the same rules. Additionally the threads appear far too large to penetrate either wood or metal. Some have suggested it is for penetrating an entirely different type of surface, but it is still open to debate. For now we are naming this discovery the light bulb, and hopefully in the coming years we will find the tool to use it, and the surface that it penetrates.
Perhaps a bad analogy, but I wanted to illustrate why you should not get cought up on a single concept or idea. try different things, and if something doesn't work try something that might not even make sense, you never know what will happen, and you just might discover a new way to do something.

please excuse the typos, I'm too lazy to go back and proof-read this right now.

coltzan's picture
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Not at the top

Well, I'm a total noob, having finished just 2 puzzles.
I don't have much scientific knowledge, but do have an interest in science.
I'm a struggling FPS player who just likes the new challenge (too bad this game doesn't have a BFG )
Being totally novice, I think intuition plays a very big part here.
I just learned the basic rules and am doing rather well, if I do say so myself.
(Rather well being in the top 20 %, but maybe I was lucky, and struggling)
So I would have to say that you don't need scientific knowledge to be good at this game.
Just go with what looks and feels good.
I do hope that even though I'm not top dog, my solutions will be used in the research.
If not, I might as well be playing Battefield, or something.

admin's picture
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Thanks for the splendid analogy, pletsch. We are all in the dark here, and when it comes to techniques, we developers and scientists much more so than you top players.


Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Boehringer Ingelheim, RosettaCommons