What if your day could start out like this:
End world hunger.
Thanks to the technological masterminds behind the World Community Grid, that scenario is not all that far-fetched. Researchers have found a way to harness a user’s idle Internet time to perform calculations that help dramatically accelerate research for vital humanitarian projects. By installing software on your computer, it works undetectably in the background, using your spare system resources to calculate data. When the calculations are finished, this stealthy software sends the data back to the World Community Grid for validation and another set of calculations is sent back to the user’s computer to begin the process again, maintaining a constant flow of productivity that keeps researchers’ efforts active on a wide scale never before possible.
The importance of the data being collected is for the scientists who are diligently applying it to re-engineer rice, uncovering innovative ways to produce a nutritionally-optimized harvest that is more resistant to disease. A healthier crop will also generate nearly three times as much, helping a third more of the population. And while it seems like a page out of a sci-fi novel, your computer does all the work behind the scenes with literally no drain on your system resources or applications.
Rice is the main staple food for more than half the world’s population. In Asia alone, more than two billion people get up to 70 percent of their dietary energy from rice. However, with climate changes and other environmental factors continuing to take their toll on crop yields, scientists are racing to create these hardier, disease-fighting “super hybrids” that are higher-yielding and more nutritious.
Since May 2008, World Community Grid’s “Nutritious Rice for the World” project has been helping scientists to identify detailed structures and functions of critical rice proteins in a significantly shorter time, shrinking research efforts from a staggering 200 years to less than 2 years.
World Food Day recently passed, highlighting the plight of 923 million malnourished people in the world. Currently, World Community Grid, has 400,000 members collectively donating the processing power of their idle computers to help those millions of starving families in underdeveloped or famine-stricken countries. The process of using Internet power to fuel this project is mind-blowing but only a fraction of what could be possible if every Internet user in the world contributed to this important effort. The result would completely eradicate starvation, and create a healthier, more thriving planet. For all intents and purposes, it transforms the entire world into one giant social network, all personally invested in putting an end to global hunger.
In this video, Dr. Ram Samudrala, Associate Professor of Computational Biology and Principal Investigator at the University of Washington, talks about how World Community Grid is helping his team with research for the Nutritious Rice for the World project.
The power of the World Community Grid opens up unlimited possibilities for compressing research that would take centuries into only a few years — or even months — if more people join in the effort. Other initiatives drawing on the power of the grid are geared toward clean energy, researching new materials for the next generation of solar cells and energy storage devices and conquering cancer, seeking ways to improve the results of protein X-ray crystallography, which gives researchers a greater understanding of cancer initiation, progression and treatment.
If you want to get involved, you can sign up to become a member at World Community Grid, download and install the secure software, select and project and Internet surf as usual. Wasting time on the web just took on a whole new meaning.