Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Revisiting EteRNA

In March, one of our Monday Fun Stuff posts featured a game called EteRNA. According to an article written in the The New York Times earlier this year, the game was created by biologists at Stanford University and computer programmers at Carnegie Mellon University to see how much of an impact large groups of non-scientists could make on our current understanding of RNA (Ribonucleic acid).

According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, it is working! The players of the game are consistently able to design patterns that fold better than those designed by algorithms that scientists have created with all of their current research and data. Beyond that, the theories and ideas players discuss on the game’s forums and while voting for which patterns will be tested in a lab are helping scientists improve the algorithms and create better predictive software. So if you enjoy puzzle games and challenges and are interested in contributing to scientific research, I encourage you to visit EteRNA and attempt the challenge yourself!

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