Maybe the PS3 will turn out to be a huge success, but did anyone think it might have a hand in curing Parkinson's disease? …yes, you read that correctly. A new feature is in the works that links PS3s together in an effort to fight incurable diseases.

What exactly does that mean? Well, [email protected] is the name of the endeavor, tackled by both Sony and Stanford University. The goal is to map the way genes change shape, or "fold," so scientists can examine them and feasibly gain insight into curing certain deadly diseases, like Parkinson's and some cancers.

If this sounds interesting – totally off the wall, but interesting nonetheless – you should download the [email protected] firmware update that will become available at the end of this month. It adds an icon to the Cross Media Bar, and when opened, a "work unit" kicks off immediately. This unit is one section of an entire folding program, but remember, you won't be able to play any games or watch any movies while it's running. Yeah, it's a bummer, but it's in the name of science, right?

Once the work unit is finished, your PS3 will send the acquired information to Stanford's servers the next time you go online, and in turn, the system gets a new unit to work on. You don't need to be online when running [email protected] because the PS3 automaticaclly updates every time you log on. Now, if enough users give the program a chance, there's the possibility that we could halve the time necessary to complete a full gene folding simulation. And that's worth thinking about…even though it still sounds kinda nutty.

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