OpenWorm represents a collaborative effort across several fields of natural and information sciences to build the first software-based biological organism; a virtual C. elegans.
Of course there have been *simulated* software organisms in the past, but OpenWorm differs from these in that it seeks to build the worm by simulating its constituent parts (cells, neurons, proteins, etc.) in software, and allowing the behaviour and full organism to emerge from this, much like how the behaviour of C. elegans, and any organism for that matter, is a function of its interacting parts.
An interesting facet of the OpenWorm project is, of course, its openness. By using and creating open source software to help accomplish the project’s ultimate aim, the full benefits of the open source movement are realized, including the ability for anyone to contribute or audit code, or see how the project functions at whichever level they like.
The project has volunteers from all over the world and across a multitude of scientific disciplines, including neuroscience, mathematics, neuroinformatics, molecular biology and many more.
Anyone can contribute to the project; check out the website and see how you can help build a simulated biological organism!