Saturday, April 18, 2009

SETI and More: Scientific Progress Goes "BOINC"

BOINC: compute for science
University of California, Berkeley

" Use the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research. It's safe, secure, and easy...."

BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) uses distributive computing to get massive computing tasks done: like 'listening' for non-random patterns in the radio noise picked up by radio telescopes. The system requirements are pretty basic, these days, and one of my brothers-in-law told me that the software doesn't interfere (much) with normal operations.

Sounds like a good idea.

So good that I downloaded the software and hooked my computer up. At this point, it's using up to 100 megabytes of disk space, 50% of the CPU's capacity, and won't start until the computer's been idle for 10 minutes. That should keep the impact on the system minimal.

I chose one project: SETI@home. Right now, my computer's one of the ones crunching through data from the Arecibo dish, among other antennas.

Aside from the 'coolness' factor, I signed on because I think this is the least-unlikely way of detecting other people.

Unlike other methods, this doesn't assume that extraterrestrial people use particular frequencies, live around particular stars, and think the same way that academic specialists in northwestern Europe and parts of North America have during the last couple of centuries.
UPDATE (April 20, 2009)

Spark left a comment about a BOINC-related metaproject:

If you have not heard of GridRepublic the non-profit working in collaboration with BOINC to make it simple and easy to discover projects, join, and manage your computer(s) preferences. They are also creating a unified outreach effort for all projects and create a community to organize and collaborate on outreach materials and ideas. They are working to bring BOINC into mainstream use. http://www.gridrepublic.org

April 18, 2009 9:54 PM
Related posts, at

2 comments:

Spark said...

If you have not heard of GridRepublic the non-profit working in collaboration with BOINC to make it simple and easy to discover projects, join, and manage your computer(s) preferences. They are also creating a unified outreach effort for all projects and create a community to organize and collaborate on outreach materials and ideas. They are working to bring BOINC into mainstream use. http://www.gridrepublic.org

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Spark,

I hadn't heard of GridRepublic before. After a quick run through the GridRepublic website, it sounds like a good idea - so I'll take the liberty of copying your comment, with a working link, into the post.

Thanks!

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