So please don't think these "hobbies" are a complete waste of time and energy.
An online game called Foldit has actually helped to deliver a medical breakthrough that could change the future of biotech research.
How are these two connected?...
It starts with proteins, which are essential to every aspect of our daily lives.
As it turns out, medical research has revealed that serious ailments like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are linked to proteins - specifically to improperly folded proteins.
Here's why: Think of proteins as tiny biochemical machines that assemble themselves to do certain jobs. The process by which proteins take the shape that governs their activity is called "folding."
Now just imagine how much healthier the human race would be - and how much longer we could all live - if we could make improperly folded proteins fold properly.
It would change the face of medicine.
How Foldit Could Help Change the WorldNo, the Foldit players didn't go that far. But they did push biotech in an exciting new direction.
Foldit allowed the gamers to "play" at arranging proteins on their home computers. The goal was to win the game by finding the best-scoring combinations, those that used the least amount of energy.
An article in the Jan. 22 online edition of the scientific journal Nature noted that researchers kept the game interesting by posting new multicolored puzzles for the gamers to solve.
In video interviews the players reported a near-obsession with the game.
Not to mention pride in the outcome - they helped the researchers redesign a protein with a nearly 1,700% increase in activity.
This is a classic example of the type of technology that will transform our lives in the Era of Radical Change.
It means that in homes and apartments around the world, gamers could go online to help create The Next Big Biodrug.
For investors that means a new field with lots of opportunities in the near future when scientists begin to work directly with proteins to repair or eliminate damaged cells that can cause disease.
Who knew curing cancer could be so much fun?
They may be able to design personalized and more-precise drugs. They could even stop a deadly flu epidemic in its tracks.
But don't take my word for it...