Researchers are once again tapping the power of the public's computers, this time to search for anti-smallpox compounds, with new downloadable screensaver programs. The Smallpox Protection Project, which debuted today, was created by an international consortium of companies and universities to analyze 35 million potential drug molecules by marshaling the idle processing time of more than two million participating computers worldwide.

Together, these computers represent a virtual supercomputer with peak computing power of more than 1,100 teraflops—more than 30 times the power of today's fastest supercomputer at the Earth Simulator Center in Japan. Results from individual computers are returned via the Internet to United Devices' data center for analysis, and results will be delivered to the US Department of Defense.

Project organizers hope this collective processing power will allow them to finish decades' worth of work in a month or two. "The largest supercomputer in the world has...

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