Provide basic bacground info on each protein puzzle
|Opened on:||Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 17:17|
|Last modified:||Friday, January 6, 2012 - 21:20|
The description of the objective of "Fold It!" says:
"We’re collecting data to find out if humans' pattern-recognition and puzzle-solving abilities make them more efficient than existing computer programs at pattern-folding tasks."
As a first step, a typical human researcher interested in how the protein should fold would consult one or more online databases to find and view information and folding patterns for similar proteins. Without doing this 'background information' check, someone working on a puzzle is really 'starting blind', and is not applying the vast potential capability of the human intellect... and thus, a puzzler's actions are really not a good measure of the full possibilities of "humans' pattern-recognition and puzzle-solving abilities...".
Fixing this situation should be fairly easy, and probably involves very little work beyond what must already be done in the background by folks that create the puzzles...
Suggestion: Basic online database research for each puzzle should be done once and made available from the puzzle program through a menu or hot-key. Results should at least show a family of proteins that the puzzle protein is similar to, pictures of how various members of the family fold, and any interesting comments available in online narratives.
The research results could probably be captured in a set of image pages on Wiki. This would allow it can be updated or added to by the community, if new or interesting things are discovered...
Suggestion #2: (probably only useful to a limited percentage of puzzlers, but takes almost no effort to implement...)
Simple, fairly trivial information, like the sequence list of amino-acid residues (and atoms) could be made easier to conveniently access. (They can be accessed, now, but most puzzlers probably don't know they exist or how to get them...) Puzzle starting position 3D coordinates would be helpful, allowing other graphical tools to import, analyze, and display the protein (particularly for import to Mathematica and Matlab, which already have compents supporting some of this.) Information on the exact positions of the start and stop of helices and sheets would also be helpful.
Making definitions available in an appropriate format would allow puzzlers to do their own further basic research in online protein data banks. It should build interest, enthusiasm, and might lead to important insights and disoveries...