For the first time in recorded history, gamers have made a positive contribution to the advancement of science. Playing a game called Foldit (specifically created to reveal the structures of amino acids), players created a model of a “monomeric protease enzyme” that can now be targeted by scientists with retroviruses. From the AFP article:
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.
Cracking the enzyme “provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs,” says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Firas Khatib of the university’s biochemistry lab said in a press release.
“The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems.”
My favorite part: the paper that published these results included the gamers as co-authors!