As nature abhors a vacuum I dislike it when my computer is idle. So, for three years now my computer has been crunching numbers for Seti. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of life elsewhere in the universe, so when I discovered I could contribute to a project seeking to discover said life, I jumped at it. Okay, but there was guilt also.

Aliens trying to contact earth? Little green men with talk radio shows? Could it even turn into a sci-fi movie where they come and eat us all? I liked the idea of distributed computing (appealed to my progressive soul), but I wanted something more than Aliens in Space.

There are distributed computing projects out there, but I couldn’t give up the quest for signals from space (I have, after all, returned over 1600 work units) and I wasn’t sure of those other projects. To my rescue comes The University of California at Berkeley with Boinc (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing). Boinc offers me an opportunity to participate in other projects such as

  • Improve the accuracy of long-term climate prediction.
  • Einstein@home: search data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US and from the GEO 600 gravitational wave observatory in Germany for signals coming from rapidly rotating neutron stars, known as pulsars.
  • LHC@home: improve the design of the CERN LHC particle accelerator.
  • Predictor@home: Solve biomedical questions and investigate protein-related diseases.

Unfortunately I can only add one project, due to system limitations. I’m at a loss to pick one. Help me out by picking one in the poll.

I’ve also been wondering if there are any uses for distributed computing in a political context. Be curious to hear any thoughts on that.

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