Gold Mine!!

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Gold Mine!!

Postby Alan C. Lawhon » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:27 am

I had an amazing experience earlier this evening which bears directly on how we go about recruiting new FAH donor-participants.

I was having dinner at a local restaurant when a group of approximately ten young people came in and sat down at a long table very close to where I was sitting. As one of the group passed by me, I played a hunch and casually asked if they were members of a local repertory company? (We have an actor’s troupe here in town and I thought they might be part of it.) “No,” he replied, “… we’re just nerds.” I flashed a quick smile as I reached for a computer book I just happened to have with me. He laughed, so I quickly addressed the entire group telling them that I would love to talk with them about something once they were through eating. One in the group expressed a bit of curiosity as to what I had in mind, so I cryptically declared, “I would like to invite you all to join me in doing medical research …” There was a slight pause as I let this sink in, then I stated: “It actually involves participating in the world’s largest distributed computing project.” This seemed to interest a few of them, so they nodded and indicated “OK.”

While they ate I asked the waitress to bring me a sheet of paper that I could write on. I recalled from memory the Folding@Home web page URL as well as the URL for the icronic.com “Team 93” flash video. I also included a reference to the Wikipedia pages on protein folding and FAH. When they were finished eating, I came over, sat down, and started off by asking if any of them just happened to be a Linux expert? None of them were Linux gurus, but one of them had a good friend who was Linux knowledgeable. Anticipating a possible question in advance, I started off by telling them that I wasn’t trying to sell anything and I had no financial motive in this, but I do have a sister with Parkinson’s disease and that is why I’m involved. I then spent some time (less than five minutes) explaining protein folding and why protein folding (and misfolding) is important – as well as how the Stanford FAH project ties in to all this. I specifically mentioned FAH is producing “good science” pointing out last year’s Alzheimer’s breakthrough and how the identification of a new candidate drug (for the treatment of Alzheimer’s) came directly from insights gained from a FAH simulation project. I also mentioned that approximately 166,000 people from all around the world are participating in FAH. I then asked if they have worked on projects together as a team? Several of them shook their heads “Yes” and nodded in the affirmative, so I responded “That’s great because this is something you can all do together! When you download the software, you can either join and fold individually – under your own name or your own moniker – or you can form a team and all fold as members of the same team.” I then rattled off a number of teams that I’m aware of, stating “Google has a team, Intel has a team, there’s even a team consisting of people from Vietnam.”

To my surprise and delight they were all paying attention and quietly soaking in what I was saying. I sensed that I had said enough, so I handed the sheet of paper to the young man I had spoken to earlier – the one who had told me “No, we’re just nerds.” He looked at the URLs I had written down and said, “Thanks! I’ll pass this on to a bunch of my friends.” I responded by telling him, “Oh, that would be great!” I closed by telling them, “Once you become protein folders, you can tell your friends that you are medical researchers – and it won’t be a total lie!” This also elicited smiles and grins from the group as they all glanced back and forth at each other. (I think I was connecting …) I thanked them for their time and wished them all a good night.

I may have struck a gold mine tonight. We may have as many as ten (or more) new folders as a result of my five minute presentation. (If the young man actually follows up by sending the URLs I wrote down to his friends, there may [potentially] be more than ten new folders!) I’m looking forward to getting my FAH postcards printed up since having those cards available and on hand - and ready to pass out to each member of the group - would have been perfect.

Tonight was serendipity, (I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time), but this is how we go about recruiting new folders!
Alan C. Lawhon
 
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Re: Gold Mine!!

Postby art_l_j_PlanetAMD64 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:16 pm

Alan C. Lawhon wrote:I may have struck a gold mine tonight. We may have as many as ten (or more) new folders as a result of my five minute presentation. (If the young man actually follows up by sending the URLs I wrote down to his friends, there may [potentially] be more than ten new folders!) I’m looking forward to getting my FAH postcards printed up since having those cards available and on hand - and ready to pass out to each member of the group - would have been perfect.

Great! And those "nerds", at least some of them, are likely to have some pretty high-powered CPUs and GPUs. :D
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Re: Gold Mine!!

Postby texinga » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:41 pm

Very well done...Bravo!! That was a great story of "getting the word out" about Folding and thanks for sharing it with fellow Folders! 8-)
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Re: Gold Mine!!

Postby bruce » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:37 pm

I agree: Bravo!!

My only question is what kind of group of Nerds wouldn't have at least one Linux Guru? (I don't expect an answer ;) )
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