With nearly 69 billion reported COVID-19 cases worldwide and over 19 billion currently infected patients, scientists have been hard at work to determine an effective treatment protocol. This research requires an extraordinary amount of computer power. Fortunately, you do not have to be a scientist or a computer expert to join in the most important fight of our time. All you need is a home computer!
As with any virus, the most effective approach to eradicate it is revealed by determining its vulnerabilities. All viruses contain proteins and those proteins are the vehicle by which the virus infects human cells. Researchers are using computer simulations to study the coronavirus’s proteins in order to find its vulnerabilities and create medications that attack and destroy it.
By donating your unused computer power, this critical research can be conducted much faster. Collective computer power enables more calculations to be done in a single month than a single desktop computer can produce in 100 years!
A DISTRIBUTED SYSTEM
When you donate your unused computer power, that power becomes part of a distributed system where individual tasks are completed by one or more computers that communicate with each other via messaging. Some examples of distributed systems that you may already be familiar with include:
- Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) where hundreds of thousands of gamers play on the same server
- Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) that provides remote access, such as retrieving your credit card statement online
- Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn
THE [email protected] PROJECT
The [email protected] project focuses on protein structure prediction and is key to coronavirus protein research. Because the process is so computationally intensive, [email protected] utilizes processing power from volunteers who choose to donate their unused computer power. Completed tasks are sent to a central project server.
The process is relatively simple:
- Instructions are sent from the central project server to your PC
- Applications and input files are then downloaded to your PC
- Computations are completed
- Output files are uploaded
- Results are reported
It has also proven to be quite effective. Due to the increasing number of users who have donated their computer power thus far, [email protected]’s computing power has been increased to 1.7 PetaFlops. To put this in perspective, a single PetaFlop computing speed is equal to one thousand million million floating-point operations per second!
As a result of the donated computer power from individual users like you, [email protected] researchers have been able to create antiviral proteins that have actually neutralized SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting.
[email protected] also contributed to research that culminated in the publication of a paper outlining ten strong antiviral candidates to combat SARS-CoV-2. Your help is needed to continue research to further develop these candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic use.
IS [email protected] SECURE?
[email protected] uses the Berkley Home Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), and is based at the University of Washington’s Baker Laboratory. While BOINC is an open source platform, it uses code signing for added security. Code signing works by assigning a pair of keys to each project consisting of a private key and a public key. This creates a specific signature for each program. The BOINC client will not run a program unless the signature is valid.
In addition, private keys are kept exclusively on permanently offline computers, which prevents hackers from running malware. If you have any security concerns, feel free to ask project administrators to explain how they do code signing. Do not attach to any project whose administrators cannot answer this question satisfactorily.
JOIN THE FIGHT
Click here to create your free account. If you have more than one PC, they can all be used on the same account.
David Baker, Ph.D., Director of [email protected] has awarded Digitawise a Certificate of Computation for participating in the [email protected] project. Since October 18, 2020, the Digitawise Team has contributed 9,300 Cobblestones of computation (8.04 quadrillion floating-point operations) to [email protected]
Join us in the fight against COVID-19 today so that we may all enjoy a better tomorrow.