RESEARCH VOLUNTEERING 11 – FOLDING@HOME

I’ve written before about getting involved with research volunteering; I do it because I enjoy:

  1. Getting paid for my time, brainpower and medical samples;
  2. Being part of a bigger research project that will advance technology for all of us.
And I’ve started contributing to the Folding@home project run by Stanford University. It’s a distributed computing effort similar to GIMPS, except they’re not searching for particular numbers; they use project members’ spare computing power to carry out calculations that model protein folding. The results of these calculations are used to study biological processes and to develop treatments for numerous conditions.

Well, that fulfils my desire to save humanity, one calculation at a time. But where’s the financial incentive, eh? Well, I’ve signed up with the 1337Foundation, who convert the points earned from the folding calculations into cryptocurrency. Unsurprisingly, the 1337Foundation pays me in 1137coin (this site plays music, which you may or may not enjoy, but just a friendly warning so that you don’t annoy your companions / coworkers!).  If you want to get involved, you’ll need to download a 1337 wallet, and then set your identity for F@h as your wallet address, and join team 233050 (more information here).

This currency was set up as a Gamers Currency, with “1337” symbolising “leet”, as in “leetspeak” (OMG this pushes all my geek buttons). Right now it’s not doing so great against the dollar, but most cryptocurrencies seem to be on a slight downward trend at the moment. I feel less concerned because I’m earning these coins as compensation for taking part in an experiment (people have calculated the typical energy use per day for continuous folding and it’s not huge, plus I have a large data allowance – although you only need about 1 GB/month).

I also secretly hope that if I hoard my 1337coins for long enough, they’ll see a similar explosion in growth to Bitcoin, and I can retire young and live in a tropical paradise somewhere. Although this is probably what all the folders are hoping. Never mind, belief in the value of the market actually keeps the market buoyant (for a time, at least). Have a little faith, people!