EteRNA: Game To Design New Molecules?

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.”

More in the full article, and the game is here.


  1. patricij says:

    Where? You tease us, Jim! :(

  2. Bennus says:

    But but where are the Waldos in that screenie?

    • Eagle0600 says:

      Clearly one of them is waiting for a new piece to add, while the other waits for sync.

  3. Diziet Sma says:

    It’s kinda fun actually. Shame it’s flash, I think it’s causing my laptop to decrease my genetic capability to replicate. Maybe that’s their plan?

  4. utharda says:

    bleargh, my alma mater.

    I should add I wish I’d gotten the fat stupid and drunk speech at college.

    I might be fat stupid and drunk now, and possibly happier -)

  5. Mungrul says:

    Oooo, this is nice. Drives my work MacBook into the ground, but I’ll definitely be having a fiddle with this at home.

  6. BAReFOOt says:

    The results of the best molecules will, apparently, be synthesized at a lab at Stanford University.

    …and patented right afterwards in all terrorist states*. Because as is the norm in music, films, books, games and arts in general, the one who had the idea, usually gets nothing. While the molecule will get a name like “EtRNA International Biotech Overlord Manufacturing and General Evilness Incorporated – X01”.

    Am I being too dark? ;))

    * = states that allow patenting of molecules.

  7. Brumisator says:

    What the hell is the point of this, wasting university money. Do you have any idea how much a sequential RNA syntheser costs?

    • Froibo says:

      Making random yet stable forms of RNA with specific shapes and the ability to make conditions such as the limit to the number of certain base pairs and they don’t even have to think about it. I’m sure when the gross value of a university is 14 billion dollars they can afford and probably had a synthesizer already for research.

  8. RubyW says:

    Unofficial RPS group:
    link to