is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected
computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
You can participate by running a free program that downloads and
analyzes radio telescope data.
Join your About Space Guide in the important
endeavor of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
First, download the software and install it on your computer.
Most of the
SETI programs in existence today, including those at UC Berkeley
build large computers that analyze that data from the telescope
in real time. None of these computers look very deeply at the
data for weak signals nor do they look for a large class of
signal types (which we'll discuss further on...) The reason for
this is because they are limited by the amount of computer power
available for data analysis. To tease out the weakest signals, a
great amount of computer power is necessary. It would take a
monstrous supercomputer to get the job done. SETI programs could
never afford to build or buy that computing power. There is a
trade-off that they can make. Rather than a huge computer to do
the job, they could use a smaller computer but just take longer
to do it. But then there would be lots of data piling up. What
if they used LOTS of small computers, all working simultaneously
on different parts of the analysis? Where can the SETI team
possibly find thousands of computers they'd need to analyze the
data continuously streaming from Arecibo?
Berkeley SETI team has discovered that there are already
thousands of computers that might be available for use. Most of
these computers sit around most of the time with toasters flying
across their screens accomplishing absolutely nothing and
wasting electricity to boot. This is where SETI@home (and you!)
come into the picture. The SETI@home project hopes to convince
you to allow us to borrow your computer when you aren't using it
and to help us "…search out new life and new civilizations."
We'll do this with a screen saver that can go get a chunk of
data from us over the internet, analyze that data, and then
report the results back to us. When you need your computer back,
our screen saver instantly gets out of the way and only
continues it's analysis when you are finished with your work.
interesting and difficult task. There's so much data to analyze
that it seems impossible! Fortunately, the data analysis task
can be easily broken up into little pieces that can all be
worked on separately and in parallel. None of the pieces depends
on the other pieces. Also, there is only a finite amount of sky
that can be seen from Arecibo. In the next two years the entire
sky as seen from the telescope will be scanned three times. We
feel that this will be enough for this project. By the time
we've looked at the sky three times, there will be new
telescopes, new experiments, and new approaches to SETI. We hope
that you will be able to participate in them too!