distributed computing for curing malaria

Nature has a new article on the use of spare computing time to cure malaria. The public is being asked to download software on to their computers so the software can run on their machines while they’re idle. The article explains the need for multiple processers:

The model attempts to individually simulate malaria infection in each of 50,000 to 100,000 people over a lifetime. It simulates how often each individual is bitten, becomes infected and fights off an infection, plus their age, health, changing number of parasites in the blood and level of immunity. It updates this information every 5 days over a population’s lifetime, a computing feat that takes about an hour to tot up on an average PC.

To refine the model, the researchers have to adjust each component multiple times until it best mimics real data collected from infected areas. This means they must run the simulations many thousands of times, eating up thousands of hours of computing time.

This project uses the same approach as the one used to model climate prediction and analyze data in the search for extra-terrestrial life.

Not a bad use for your computer’s idle time: to spare individuals a lifetime of illness.

Comments are closed.