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I AM A GOLDEN GOD (of [email protected])

This is another late post, but I was busy this weekend with schoolwork and the Blip Festival (more on that to come in a future blog entry). Iíll start out by saying itís kind of a ďtoot my own hornĒ post...but you probably already figured that out from the title.

I take good care of my possessions. I have a lot of DVDs, and a bunch of expensive electronic devices (iPod classic, laptop, LCD HDTV, PS3, etc.) as well. So I almost never have a problem with equipment unless itís a manufacturing defect. As such, my PS3 has never had any issues with freezing or overheating or anything like that ó and Iím not even particularly nice to the damn thing, by gamer standards. Let me explain what I mean.

On March 22, 2007, Sony updated the PS3ís software to v1.60, which added a [email protected] client to the XMB. The way that it works is that you leave your PS3 on, and it does calculations on a ďwork unitĒ (one particular protein) ó basically, it runs simulations of the different scenarios for the protein folding. Each work unit takes about eight hours to complete, and the data is sent back to Stanford University for analysis. Now, I have pretty much been running my PS3 24/7 to help with this project. That is, whenever Iím not using my PS3 to play a game, listen to my music (streaming through router = awesome), or watch a movie, etc., itís running [email protected]. I know thereís a Destructoid team, but I didnít find out about it until after I had already joined the PlayStation.com Forums Team (#55265), and I didnít want to switch because your completed work units donít transfer with you ó in other words, Iíd start over at zero WU completed if I changed teams. In that respect, I guess Iím a front-runner: the PlayStation.com Forums Team is ranked #46 out of the 89,523 [email protected] teams.

My friends all ask me why I do it, and I usually make a joke along the lines of, ďIím helping to cure cancer, Alzheimerís, Parkinsonís, etc.Ē Of course, thatís not entirely false, as the data being submitted to Stanford by computers running [email protected] is indeed used for those purposes. Most of my friends are very cautious about their PS3s, and they donít want to put their console through any more strain than need be. But I guess I just feel kinda cool contributing to a greater cause, and I recently hit a milestone (which is what this post is actually about ó took me long enough to get there, didnít it?).

On Thursday, November 29, I completed my 600th work unit! How do I know this, aside from the fact that the PS3 client reports it? Well, Stanford has set up an extensive statistics tracking database for [email protected] There, you can follow your own progress, as well as the progress of your folding team. Now, you canít do the exact math to figure out just how many hours Iíve been folding. See, they updated the client to v1.2 a month or two ago to include (among other things) support for ďAdvancedĒ folding, which they said should only be used for people who folded for at least eight hours a day. Since I was already well over that threshold, I enabled that mode, and when youíre using it, the work units take longer to complete (usually around twelve hours). But just to give you a minimum number...

600 WU ◊ 8 hrs/WU = 4800 hrs
4800 hrs ų 24 hrs/day = 200 days

Again, Iíve actually spent more hours folding because I turned on Advanced mode as soon as I updated to v1.2 of the client. Obviously, I have continued to run the client since I hit 600 WU, and Iím now up to 610. Iíve actually completed a total of 624, but the first 14 were with team that I created myself, so they donít count towards the progress on the PlayStation.com Forums Team. In fact, my PS3 has dedicated enough time to this project to ensure my place among the top folders on my team. If you check out the team statistics page for the PlayStation.com Forums Team, youíll see that Iím currently ranked at #31 (out of 2,650). My ďscoreĒ (I have no clue as to how itís calculated; it seems quite arbitrary) gives me my total Donator Rank, which is 12084 out of 861,667 total donors ó so Iím within the top 1.5% of all people who have ever run [email protected]! For my immense contribution to this project, I got a special certificate signed by the projectís director himself, Professor Vijay Pande:

Note: There is nothing really special about this; the certificates are automatically generated and they all look similar to this one ó in fact, you can get a certificate after folding just one WU.

If youíd like to gawk at my stats and have your mind blown, you can check out my Donor Statistics page. Iím sure that many of you guys saw Nick Chesterís story about how the [email protected] project now holds a Guinness World Record for the worldís most powerful computing network; if you read it, youíd know that thatís only possible with the help of all the PS3s that are folding.

So in closing, Iíd like to urge all of you who own PS3s to start running [email protected] and contributing to this worthy cause (you should all join the Destructoid team, though: #55789). It doesnít take any effort on your part (unless, of course, youíre paying the electric bill ó check out that calculation below), especially since you can set the client to automatically start up after 10, 20, or 30 minutes of your PS3 being idle. Of course, you should first make sure to put your PS3 in a well-ventilated area ó mine is just sitting in the open, in front of my TV, on top of my dresser. My console has never overheated or anything, but the air coming out of the vent on the right side of the unit (the top if your PS3 is vertical) can get quite hot. But once youíve taken care of that, just start up the client and watch that ďscreensaverĒ go!

Oh yeah, the electricity calculation:

According to the PS3 FAQ on the [email protected] page, a PS3 running [email protected] uses about 200 W of power (thatís 200 joules per second, for you science people). So,

4800 hrs ◊ 60 min/hr ◊ 60 sec/min = 17,280,000 seconds minimum run time for [email protected]
17,280,000 sec ◊ 200 W (J/sec) = 3,456,000,000 J

And according to Googleís calculator function, 3,456,000,000 J = 960 kilowatt-hours


P.S. As always, bonus points for those of you who get the reference in the title...
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About Samit Sarkarone of us since 7:56 PM on 12.14.2006

Senior Reporter, Polygon at Vox Media

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