First there was distributed.net and their
successful attempts to crack encrypted data with the power
of thousands of idle CPUs. Then came SETI@HOME,
which attempts to find extraterrestrial radio stations
using the power of thousands of idle CPUs. Now we have Folding at
Home, which attempts to increase our understanding of
how proteins self-assemble using, you guessed it, the power
of thousands of idle CPUs.
I'm not going to try to explain just what protein folding is or why
understanding it is such a hot topic in biological circles. If you're really
curious, go to the Folding at
Home web site and read their explanation.
What I am going to say is that if you're going to donate your extra CPU cycles
to a distributed processing project, why not pick one that is so strangely
esoteric that you will completely baffle most people?
I'm not talking about the usual lunkheads that are easily baffable either, the
ones who stare at the FAX machine wondering how the paper manages to be both
here and somewhere else at the same time, but people who actually understand
why breaking low-bit RSA is a worthwhile exercise and how the SETI project
needs more CPU cycles. These people are HARD to baffle, and this project is
just what you need to confuse and astound them. Aside from a few people who
actually read Engines of
Creation, no one will understand what it is you're doing with your
computer, and that's what's really important, right?