The British Computer Society is reporting a joint announcement by Sony and Stanford University yesterday regarding a collaboration between the university's Folding@home project and PlayStation 3 owners to use the consoles to conduct cancer research.

The Folding@home project uses a downloadable client and the combined power of networked computers, including the PS3, across the world to analyse data on protein behaviour. The results are then used to run simulations that could help understanding of various diseases and conditions, including cancers.

Power of PS3

Folding@home leader, Vijay Pande, has welcomed the addition of the PS3 and its powerful Cell processor, which can be ten times faster than a typical PC. He said, "With PS3 now part of our network, we will be able to address questions previously considered impossible to tackle computationally."

So, next time someone criticises you for wasting time with games consoles, perhaps pointing them in the direction of the groundbreaking work done by Stanford and thousands of PS3 owners around the world will make a fair point. Just make sure you're part of it.