LondonNet News Headlines
05/04/01
PC Power Takes On Cancer
- Oxford researchers ask for screensaver capacity to help project

UNTAPPED PC power is set to join the battle against cancer today following the development of screensaver-type software which can use spare computer capacity to aid research.

A joint project involving medical researchers at Oxford University in the UK and Californian company United Devices, the scheme rests on the fact that, on average, computers are used only 20 per cent of the time.

"People now have the opportunity to make a positive impact on cancer by donating their unused computer power, which will enable us to accelerate our programme of research, and come up with many new molecular candidates that could be developed into cancer drugs," said Professor Graham Richards, director of the Centre for Drug Discovery at Oxford University.

When the mouse or keyboard lies idle, most PCs switch to screensaver mode, which is where United Devices' software comes in. Dubbed Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software, the new technique enables millions of PCs to be used, in effect, as one huge computer while PCs would otherwise be showing a few tropical fish swimming around or some hypnotic fractal pattern.

Computers subscribing to the project will each be handed a package of digital 'molecules' involved in cancer research, which will be investigated by another software package known as Think.

Calculations that would take decades using just one supercomputer are likely to be completed in a fraction of the time thanks to the screensaver scheme.

Interested? Contact www.ud.com for details of how to join the computer-versus-cancer battle.




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