Computer users can help find a cure for AIDS with the click of a mouse.
Through the technology known as grid computing, PC users are now able to assist scientific research halfway across the world, equipped only with their computers and their Internet connection.
Gay dating site Fitlads.net is asking its members to install a small piece of software, by invitation from the research laboratory working on the project.
This software detects when the user is online and utilises the spare capacity of the machine the use of the FightAIDS@Home project without compromising general PC activities.
The FightAIDS@Home project was first launched in 2002 in the US, to limited exposure.
In 2005, the project was registered with the World Community Grid, which has subsequently turned many more people onto this ambitious project.
Described on its website as “the first biomedical distributed computing project ever launched”, the Olson Laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California developed FightAIDS@Home.
Already, the project has made significant strides in creating a more reliable system to classify molecules that can potentially overcome the challenges viral mutations pose to effective treatment of HIV and AIDS.
The project has been able to do this by harnessing the technology now known as “grid computing”.
This means anyone around the world can download a programme provided by the Scripps Research Institute that allows their PC to be a part of a collective “virtual supercomputer” with the aid of hundreds of thousands of other computers all over the world.
This process of volunteer computing allows independent and geographically dispersed Internet users to share a network that enables the scientists back in California to use the collective spare capacity available.
This is often referred to as “idle time” and this collective computing assists in the completion of complex scientific problems.
With the aide of this supercomputer, the resources of the FightAIDS@Home project have been channelled into research and not into the purchase of costly traditional multiprocessors.
This arrangement is effective on a number of levels.
Grid computing enables multiple tasks to be completed simultaneously and independently, without the need to communicate intermediate results between internal processors.
Environmentally, the process of grid computing also results in reduced costs in electricity and cooling as often required for the running of a single supercomputer.
The World Community Grid counts IBM as one of its key corporate sponsors. Its agenda, according to its website, is to makes its technology available to “tackle projects that benefit humanity.”
The software itself is downloaded and used without compromising the quality of the running of an average computer.
It is through the specialised software and the sophisticated technical infrastructure supplied by the World Community Grid that PC users here in the UK can take part in the project.
For those interested in taking part in the
FightAIDS@Home project, visit