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Scouts sign up PCs for medical research

Ian Grant

Scouts, Guides, Wolf Cubs and Brownies can now sign up their computers for good deeds.

World Scouting has joined the IBM-sponsored World Community Grid, which makes available spare computer cycles for research into diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and muscular dystrophy.

The move comes at the centenary of the Scout Movement, which had its origins in the dusty South African town of Mafeking during the Anglo-Boer War.

When Boers blockaded the town, Robert Baden-Powell organised the town's boys to watch Boer troop movements. He used that experience to start the Scout Movement, which now has 28 million members in 155 countries.

Scouts can download a free software program that will make available their spare computer cycles to researchers on the World Community Grid. Since its start in 2004, people have donated over 100,000 years of run time.

The Scripps Research Institute is one group to take advantage of the free computer power. It is using the Grid to research candidate drugs to block HIV protease, a protein involved in the production of viral proteins.

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