While there are many example of online games and tools to waste time, there are a few that actually use people to harness either spare computing power or people power:
- Folding@home: a distributed computing effort run by Stanford University, whereby different parts of the program or data are processed simultaneously on two or more computers to study protein folding and misfolding. For anyone like me who didn’t study or remember much science, there’s more details here.
There are clients for linux, mac, playstation and windows available for download.
- Zooniverse: a citizen science base where people were first used to determine what shapes galaxy pictures captured from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: either elliptical or spiral – as computers couldn’t interpret the pictures taken.