This ingenious idea has now delivered and it is still BETA!

Foldit is much like Mahjong or even Solitaire in that it presents as a puzzle game, albeit in 3D! … However, the rules of the game are as near a match to the rules of biology, chemistry & physics as a computer can muster. The objective of each puzzle is to organize a molecule in the most efficient way possible. Just like any puzzle game, it seems a bit complex at first but once you get a feel for it it really is pretty fun.

So now is the brilliant part. Within these levels of known structures this brilliant game (supported by the Center for Game Science at the the University of Washington) injects unknown structures with the hopes that they could be solved in the same fashion.

Guess what, they did! In about 10 days! The researchers really thought this was a long-shot but the results are astounding.

So perhaps the most interesting point of this brilliant exercise is what the peanut gallery has to say. Perhaps ironically, since gamers solved the puzzle, the peanut gallery becomes the academics who didn’t. Obviously the researchers themselves were elated. The academic world is not entirely devoid of humility. However, there is plenty of vitriol to be found from those who do lack humility.

“The gamer just got lucky, that’s all there is to it.” – Post from message board.

I suspect that the Center for Game Science at UofW will be taking exception to that claim. It reminds me of the many stories about Albert Einstein, not being able to speak until he was 4, not being able to tie his shoes even into his teens… Perhaps they are fables, but perhaps it stands to reason that intelligence just comes in a variety of forms and those fascinated with solving a puzzle are not especially interested in memorizing the solution. A trait that is vastly undervalued on the academic track. It may shake their doctorate, post-graduate, world, but maybe they are not quite as elite as they’ve come to believe.

Whatever the case, I hope we hear a lot more about this. I’ve always believed that the most practical among us are those who are trying to take the next step, and almost always the most practical among us are the ones responsible for us taking the next step. There are those who dream and fantasize about 100 years down the road. Usually borrowing ideas from George Lucas. However, 100 years later we’re shaking our heads thinking how silly those ideas were. They overreach, they become “idea people” with no grasp and little skill in reality. Somehow they often stand in the spotlight, making predictions that are absurd at best, while the doers are doing. A shout out to the doers of the world. Some of us know that the doers ARE the idea people. The doers are the ones whose ideas must match up with reality. Doers have vision, and even fantasies, but they manage to actually produce like these gamers did. This is a tribute to you, doer.

Remembering 9/11

This morning Barack Obama quoted Psalm 46 verbatim. No interpretation, no opinion, just the words of the Bible:

1 God is our refuge and strength, 
   an ever-present help in trouble. 
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way 
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
3 though its waters roar and foam 
   and the mountains quake with their surging.

 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
   the holy place where the Most High dwells. 
5 God is within her, she will not fall; 
   God will help her at break of day. 
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; 
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; 
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 8 Come and see what the LORD has done, 
   the desolations he has brought on the earth. 
9 He makes wars cease 
   to the ends of the earth. 
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; 
   he burns the shields[d] with fire. 
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; 
   I will be exalted among the nations, 
   I will be exalted in the earth.”

Thank you Mr. President for bringing pure hope and comfort today. We will never forget 9/11 and what it means. When our nation is blessed we will be hated by evil people. Just as Israel was blessed by God, so has America been. Just as the evil have hated Israel so have they hated America. Yet we continue to be blessed.

As verse 2 above mentions, those evil people have tried to make us fear, but we will not fear. We also should not allow this to make us evil, or lead us to become self-absorbed. As the Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair proclaimed nearly 40 years ago (speaking of events beginning even 60 years prior) may we continue to be “the most generous and possibly the least-appreciated people in all the earth.”

God Bless America!