Scientists can now include online gaming in their problem-solving ___1___. Because game players seem to have provided an answer to a scientific question that’s vexed researchers for a decade.

Scientists wanted to know the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme produced by a retrovirus similar to HIV. They haven’t been able to solve the protein structure using standard ___2___ methods.

Now, the game—researchers developed Foldit in 2008. Teams of players fold molecules and rotate amino acids to create 3-D protein structures. Gamers get points for structure stability.

So researchers asked gamers to try to solve this ___3___ protein. Within three weeks, the gamers found a good solution. The scientists then refined it and were able to completely determine the protein’s structure. Having the structure could inform the use of drugs to block the enzyme, and provide another tool against retroviruses, including HIV.

The researchers say that people have better ___4___ reasoning skills than computers—and that using both humans and machines might be a way to overcome various structural challenges. The results appear in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. [Firas Khatib et al, Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players] Co-authored by researchers—and a number of gamers.

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科学家们的研究方法已经不再死板,打网络游戏也能解决问题。研究员被困100年的问题,现在可以通过玩家们玩游戏来揭开这个科学谜底。 科学家们很想掌握由反向病毒所衍生的蛋白剪切酶的结构,而反向病毒是指,比如HIV这样的病毒。这类蛋白结构是不能通过标准算法法则推导就直接得出的。 现在,我们说明这档2008年推出的游戏——佛德特(Foldit,学名:实验性的蛋白质折叠电子游戏),玩家可以各自分小组进行,所有玩家在游戏中折叠分子和旋转氨基酸,创造出三维的蛋白结构,游戏得分标准基于蛋白质的稳定程度。 那么,研究员们只要设定好游戏,玩家们就想方设法折叠出规定蛋白的结构,3周后,玩家成功闯关。最后,只要科学家们再精炼总结一下,就能得到蛋白的结构。明白了这些蛋白结构,就可以制造出应对酶的产物,也可以提供遏止病毒蛋白质的工具,比如HIV病毒。 研究者们认为,人类的空间推理能力要比电脑强大的多,所以结合电脑和人类的大脑才是解决各种各样问题的最佳方法。这一结果已经在《自然结构》杂志和《生物分子》刊登出来(Firas Khatib,等人;“美丽的反向病毒蛋白酶单链结构”),当然,作者一栏写的是研究员和大众玩家合著。