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The Power of Belief

Proteins are the machines and building blocks of life. That is a quite literal scientific statement and not merely some bro-science spat out by your regular gym bro.

Without delving too much into the details, the "Protein Folding Problem" was first posed about half a century ago. In his acceptance speech for the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Christian Anfinsen famously speculated that, in theory, "a protein’s amino acid sequence should fully determine its 3D structure.”

In his speech, he simply speculated that it should be possible, but never said how.

Nevertheless, that sparked a 50-year race among scientists to find the solution, set off by the belief that a Nobel-winning Scientist had said it would be possible!

Fast forward to 2020, and AlphaFold 2 achieved just that.

“By demonstrating that AI could accurately predict the shape of a protein down to atomic accuracy, at scale and in minutes, AlphaFold not only provided a solution to a 50-year grand challenge, it also became the first big proof point of our founding thesis: that artificial intelligence can dramatically

accelerate scientific discovery, and in turn advance humanity,” said Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind.

In a similar sequence of events, we used to believe that it was impossible for a human to run a sub 4-minute mile. After it was achieved by Roger Bannister in 1954, 37 runners went on to break the barrier within the next year.

How often do we allow our limiting beliefs to hold us back?

We might not have the chance to solve one of humanity's great problems every day, but surely we can learn a thing or two about the importance of having belief in our own abilities.

“To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will.”

― Sugar Ray Robinson

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