Your Computer can Help Fight the Coronavirus

Watching the news during the last few weeks you have probably heard a lot about COVID-19, the newest form of  Coronavirus. The disease has been spreading across the world at an alarming pace which is concerning to many. One of the worst parts has been feeling that there is nothing you, personally, can do. We all know the advice we have been given to protect ourselves, wash your hands frequently, do not touch your face, etc. But as for stopping the spread of the virus, everyday people have very little power.

Researchers have been working frantically to develop medicine to fight COVID-19. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus manifests as a complex protein that is constantly changing structure both during and after infection, when symptoms start to appear. In order to better understand the virus, and eventually develop medicine to cure it, researchers need to conduct a process known as protein folding. Investigating protein folding involves scientists using computers to model and analyze all possible structures of a protein, such as the COVID-19 protein. The problem is that protein folding is incredibly complex, so complex that it might take a single computer centuries to fully analyze all the structures employed by a single Coronavirus protein during its lifetime.

Fortunately, a Stanford based research group has a solution to this. Called “Folding at Home,” scientists have designed an application that everyday people can download which detects when you are not using your computer and takes advantage of the idle processing power to fold proteins. While you are at school or doing other things, your computer will be working hard to develop a Coronavirus vaccine and reporting back what it finds to medical scientists. Do not worry though, this application will not crash your computer or even slow it down. When you are ready to use your computer again, the application will halt and let you use as much processing power as you need. By taking two minutes to download this tiny application you can join other people from across the world in a global project to combat this universal threat.

Folding at Home only runs on desktop or laptop computers and will not function on smartphones or tablets.



Former Editor in Chief of The City Voice, finally graduated City High Middle School as part of the Class of 2022.