Feature

Videogamers solve a molecular mystery, and more

Biochemists have long sought to map the molecular structure of an enzyme from an AIDS-like virus so they could stop it from spreading.

Videogamers solve a molecular mystery
Scientists may be a step closer to a cure for AIDS after a molecular mystery that has stumped experts for years was resolved by videogame players in less than 10 days. Biochemists have long sought to map the molecular structure of an enzyme from an AIDS-like virus so they could stop it from spreading. But it was not until the University of Washington turned the project into an online game that the riddle was solved. Some 57,000 video­gamers, many of them nonscientists, joined together to achieve the breakthrough.

Origami in a bottle lands on Hawaiian beach
When Saki Arikawa sealed a selection of keepsakes in a bottle and threw it into the sea in southern Japan five years ago, she hardly imagined she would see it again. But the Japanese girl’s bottle was recovered last week by Petty Officer Jon Moore on a Hawaiian beach, with its bounty—four origami figures and a photograph of Arikawa’s elementary school class—intact. Arikawa, now 17, was so inspired by the discovery that she organized a reunion with a dozen old classmates last weekend. “Thanks to the bottle,” she said, “some of us could get together and had a great time.”

Charger fans rally to collect stray bills
It might be the most incredible return in the NFL this season. When Heather Allison, a server at the San Diego Chargers stadium, stumbled on the stairs and accidentally dropped $1,000 over a railing during a recent preseason game, she might have assumed the unsuspecting football fans beneath would simply pocket the cash. But the crowd, realizing what had happened, collected the stray money—which included $170 in tips—and returned it to the mother of four without a single dollar missing. “Chargers fans are amazing,” she said. “We’re like a family.”

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