Ever wish you were the guy or gal to make first contact? Or have a previously unknown Pulsar named after you? Have some free CPU cycles lying around on one of your machines? Taking a snack break from World of Warcraft and download these. the following programs work in the background and on virtually all platforms, and you are guaranteed not to interfere with your hunt for that perfect apartment mate, apartment, or the dreaded Litch King 😉
The SETI Institute (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), the EINSTEIN Project (radio-telescopic research into Pulsars within site of our orbital telescopes), are overwhelmed with data, and haven’t the manpower or the machines to process it. As such, volunteers like you and I can help by analyzing their data in chunks and transmitting our results back to them. Pulsars, Magnetars, and Black Holes; not to mention the holy grail of astrobiology, ET, whatever form it may take, elsewhere in the universe . How can I volunteer? How can I be part of this, and other, amazing scientific ventures while shot-gunning beers or smoking joints form your couch? The answer is both quick and simple:
1. Visit the following sites to download the “BOINC” software. (http://boinc.berkeley.edu/) Yes, BOINC. (What do expect? The acronym was developed by a bunch of UC Berkley students with taped glasses and pocket protectors. What do you expect?) You’re gong to need it to participate in any of these programs.
2. Upon completion of download, fire it up , create a username and password, join a team that appeals to you (Much less daunting than it sounds. Don’t worry couch potatoes, no tryouts will be required of you?). After that peruse the project list, presented to you during setup, and join as many of these underfunded projects as your CPU(s) can handle.
3. Fire it up, select a “Project” you wish to work on, and wait for the product data to arrive at your machine. Before long signs of inactivity change.
I’m still looking into a tax deduction from all the elctricity and CPU cycles the thing is devouring… But I’m not sure how amenable the IRS would be to this one. Best not to ask altogether, perhaps…
Smile. our computer has now become part of a secure, benign, and highly distributed computer network drawn from every corner of the globe. In essence, you are contributing expensive CPU cycles to critical scientific projects, instead of hard currency to programs you’re not even sure will receive the money in the first place! There is so very much data to be crunched by SETI, Einstein, et al., emanating from Arecibo and its like, that no numbers of supercomputers could possible handle it alone. They need our hep, and with multiple, distributed systems all crunching their own chunks of data, everywhere around the globe… Voilá, problem solved. Well, partly solved… 😉