Tuesday, 4 November 2014
"Why don't you and I combine?" — Bob Marley
“Scientists hope to unlock the secrets of millions of marine microbes from waters as far apart as Sydney’s Botany Bay and the Amazon River in Brazil, with the help of an international team of volunteers sharing their spare computer capacity to create a research 'supercomputer.'
The project, co-led by University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Associate Professor Torsten Thomas, has the aim of making 20 quadrillion—or twenty thousand million million—comparisons of genes from a wide variety of tiny life-forms that are invisible to the naked eye.
'Microorganisms rule the planet. Without bacteria and other microbes, life on Earth would very rapidly cease,' says Prof. Thomas, of the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences and Center for Marine Bio-Innovation. 'But we know very little about them. Scientists have studied less than one percent of microbial diversity around the globe. Valuable discoveries await us if we can learn about the remaining 99 percent.' The Uncovering Genome Mysteries project is hosted on IBM’s World Community Grid. In the past decade more than 670,000 people have volunteered their spare computer capacity to the grid, creating a virtual supercomputer that carries out scientific research around the clock. 'Anyone with a computer, smartphone or tablet can join and help to give us the computational power to carry out our microbe research,' says Prof. Thomas, who heads the project with Dr. Wim Degrave of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil.
With enough volunteers the project could be completed within months. By comparison, it would take 40,000 years for a single PC to make 20 quadrillion computations.'”
— Asian Scientist