PlayStation 3 became part of the Folding@home research project led by Stanford University only a month ago and since had 250,000 people sign up.

In a very confusing understanding of this medical research, Folding@home is hoping to achieve a greater understanding on protein folding. This is the act of proteins working to create energy for the body.

When proteins do not fold correctly there can be serious consequences including many well-known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

The program creates energy from downloader’s of the research tool, PS3 users are delivering nearly 400 teraflops, achieving a total computing power of over 700 teraflops at a single moment.

According to the organisation running the effort, the Folding@home program has become one of the most powerful distributed computing networks in the world and is quickly approaching a level of computing power that is of historical proportions.

For more details it is worth visiting the website, but it all looks like powering a medical study through gaming. Which is much more charitable than a few pennies.