So here’s an interesting little “game” you can play if you ever get bored. It’s called EteRNA, a collection of “puzzles” which task players with designing specific RNA sequences.
RNA is, of course, Ribonucleic acid, one of the fundamental building blocks of life. With EteRNA, players work with pairings of the four nucleotides that make up RNA, solving Challenge Puzzles to successfully arrange the RNA in different patterns.
But it’s not just a game. You see, while computer programs can obviously figure out these sequences, they take a lot of time to do so. Crowdsourcing humans to complete these “puzzles” instead allows scientists to gather data at a much faster rate.
EteRNA’s “Lab Puzzles” in particular allow you to create your own solutions to “real RNA design problems” and test actual hypotheses. Play the game, and you help scientists solve the mysteries of RNA.[quote]“By playing EteRNA, you will participate in creating the first large-scale library of synthetic RNA designs. Your efforts will help reveal new principles for designing RNA-based switches and nanomachines — new systems for seeking and eventually controlling living cells and disease-causing viruses.” – EteRNA, The Basics[/quote]