There’s a real theme of games doing science this week, particularly chemistry. In this instance, however, it’s real chemistry in a change-the-world sort of way. The New York Times reports that EteRNA is being used to “design complex new ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules,” via a system that allows players to mess around with molecules and “design elaborate structures including knots, lattices and switches.” It’s one of those “social computation” things (see Galaxy Zoo) that uses the massed results of people’s work to process data that can only be sorted by hand. The results of the best molecules will, apparently, be synthesized at a lab at Stanford University. “This is like putting a molecular chess game in people’s hands at a massive level,” said (project boss-person) Dr. Treuille. “I think of this as opening up science. I think we are democratizing science.”
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