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Google tests distributed computing

Popular Web search company Google this week introduced Google Compute, a new feature of its toolbar that lets Microsoft Windows users donate their otherwise unused processing power to help solve scientific problems. Google Compute is an experiment in distributed computing borne from Google Labs, which lets Google users try out technologies fresh from Google's research and development team. At launch, these experiments included a glossary, a voice-search application and keyboard shortcuts for navigating through search results.

The newest project started on a limited basis in March 2002, when the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search company invited 500 people for a trial that benefits the Folding@home project at Stanford University. The project seeks to figure out how genetic information is converted into proteins, complex molecules whose 3D structure is key to everything from fighting off a cold to transporting oxygen around the body.