fat and depressed, but Canadian researchers are hoping gamers will find an online puzzle
challenge addictive enough to help them figure out the origins of
The game, called Phylo, works by helping researchers identify sections of DNA that are similar
across species and contribute to traits such as blue eyes -- or
medical conditions such as heart disease. By pinpointing these regions,
scientists hope to trace the source of certain genetic diseases.
It turns out that humans are much better than computers at recognizing these types of patterns. Lead researcher Jerome Waldispuhl and his colleagues at McGill University built Phylo to capitalize on that fact.
They aren't the first scientists to harness idle people and their
pattern-recognition prowess to achieve research goals. There's the
University of Washington's protein folding game Foldit, for example. There's also Galaxy Zoo, which tasks users to classify galaxies according to shape. (A spin-off called Moon Zoo focuses on lunar craters.)
For more about Pylo visit www.popgoestheclassroom.com