An MSNBC article provides a fascinating account of how a collaborative online game, Foldit, has in less than 10 days helped scientists to solve a puzzle that had stumped them for years.
The riddle centered around identifying the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from a virus found in rhesus monkeys that is similar to AIDS. It is believed that pursuing this line of research could lead to medications that can block viruses and prevent them from harming the patient.
"Foldit shows that a game can turn novices into domain experts capable of producing first-class scientific discoveries," Zoran Popovic, director of University of Washington's Center for Game Science, said in today's news release. "We are currently applying the same approach to change the way math and science are taught in school...."