Help fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) with your Mac

About the [email protected] Project

In the growing field of computational biology, medical researchers run complex molecular simulations to help validate therapeutic pharmaceuticals, and develop new ones.

[email protected] is one such project, which began at Stanford University in late October 2000. It’s now based at Washington University in its St. Louis School of Medicine, has additional management from Temple University, and is working on molecular simulation projects from researchers all around the world.

[email protected] runs atomic-level molecular modeling simulations to identify the structure and function of proteins and molecules. These simulations give medical researchers a better understanding of diseases, so they can then make pharmaceuticals which prevent diseases from functioning, evading the immune system, and spreading in the body.

The simulation work [email protected] does is very processor intensive. That’s not a problem, since [email protected] is a massive distributed computing project — it harnesses the spare processing power of volunteers’ computers all around the world to run its simulations. By sending parts of a protein or molecular simulation out to volunteers’ computers for processing and then returning the results, [email protected] has in-effect the fastest supercomputer on Earth.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) was just added to the list of diseases that [email protected] is working on: these include Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s.

Volunteers can download a free “client program” for Mac, Linux, and Windows, install it, then leave it running in the background while they work on other tasks. The [email protected] client program will download and work on a protein or molecular problem. Completed results are then returned to [email protected], which will combine calculation results from other volunteers’ computers to form a solution to the protein or molecular problem. Volunteers’ computers are then sent the next protein or molecular problem to work through.

Click an image to see it larger.

The Web-based controller is simple and graphical.
The Web-based controller is simple and graphical.

The Folding@home client program has more complete project information and preference settings.
The [email protected] client program has more complete project information and preference settings.

The supplementary FAHVewer program shows the protein or molecule being worked on.
The supplementary FAHVewer program shows the protein or molecule being worked on.

How to Run [email protected] on your Mac

The basics of how to set up the [email protected] client program are explained in a MacRumors story (its easy,) and Windows and Linux versions work in a similar way.

As MacRumors explains, be sure the “Cause” Preference is set to “Any” in order to receive Coronavirus tasks to process (which is the default setting.) Please keep in mind that the “Any” setting will also assign other “high-priority” projects to client programs in addition to Coronavirus-related ones.

Please note that the [email protected] client does not use the Mac’s Graphical Processor Unit (GPU) because of processor library incompatibility reasons. The Mac’s standard Central Processing Unit (CPU) will be used instead.

So many people have joined in [email protected], that the project’s servers are struggling to keep up. Keep your [email protected] client running, and it will eventually be sent more work to calculate through.

More Information

Here are helpful links for [email protected] — these open in a new window or tab.
Updates:

  • 5/11/20 – Added new intro paragraphs to explain how computers help in medical research, and how computers help [email protected]
  • 4/11/20 – PMUG Team Info added

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