solve all puzzlesEteRNA is a browser-based "game with a purpose", developed by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University, that engages users to solve puzzles related to the folding of RNA molecules. The project is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford University, and the National Institutes of Health. Prior funders include the National Science Foundation.
Similar to Foldit—created by some of the same researchers that developed EteRNA—the puzzles take advantage of human problem-solving capabilities to solve puzzles that are computationally laborious for current computer models. The researchers hope to capitalize on "crowdsourcing" and the collective intelligence of EteRNA players to answer fundamental questions about RNA folding mechanics. The top voted designs are synthesized in a Stanford biochemistry lab to evaluate the folding patterns of the RNA molecules to compare directly with the computer predictions, ultimately improving the computer models.
Ultimately, EteRNA researchers hope to determine a "complete and repeatable set of rules" to allow the synthesis of RNAs that consistently fold in expected shapes. EteRNA project leaders hope that determining these basic principles may facilitate the design of RNA-based nanomachines and switches. EteRNA creators have been pleasantly surprised by the solutions of EteRNA players, particularly those of non-researchers whose "creativity isn't constrained by what they think a correct answer should look like".
due date march 17 12 PM EST