Use Those Extra CPU Cycles to Find Intelligent Life in Space

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

Beginning today the SETI Institute (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) and it’s SETI@Home project will begin expanding its search for life in the universe. A giant radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico scans the sky for radio signals with the hope that something out there may be sending a galaxy-wide hello. Gathering all this data is the easy part. Analyzing it is something else. The Berkeley team that administers the system responsible for managing the data notes the real work goes into analyzing the space noise that may show signs of something else other than the universe?s background sounds:

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.

On 6 April 1999 the UNIX community was able to download client software to assist radio astronomers in analyzing radio frequency data recorded by the radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Today Windows and Mac users can download the software to be a part of the project. Whenever your computer is idle, something similar to a screen saver is activated and the spare CPU cycles your system produces analyzes the data sent to you over the net by the research facility. No doubt, this project and its collaborative processing promises to have commercial implications well into the future ? besides, of course, you may be ‘the one’ who discovers alien intelligence.

Will you be taking part in this project? The PowerPage’s network operations center will be and we’d like to know if you will be too. Email us with your thoughts.

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