Powerful game consoles are often just as programmable as research computers, and scientists are finding real world applications for them every day.
"There is no doubt that the entertainment industry is helping to drive the direction of high performance computational science," said Professor Peter Coveney of University College London.
The Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii in particular can function as great scientific tools.
Gaurav Khanna, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, uses an array of 16 PS3s instead of a supercomputer to simulate two black holes merging.
"A single high-precision simulation can sometimes cost more than 5,000 hours on the TeraGrid supercomputers. For the same cost, you can build your own supercomputer using PS3s. It works just as well, has no long wait times and can be used over and over again, indefinitely," said Khanna.
We've previously seen how the Wii's cheap motion sensing technology has been useful to surgeons, but more recently, the Wii has been used during rehabilitation for recovering surgery patients and as an aid in Parkinson's therapy. Now, you can go and explain to your wife/mom/savings account why you needed all three next generation consoles on launch day—to cure cancer, obviously. [Telegraph]