July 25, 2014

31.03.10- S.E.T.I. Turns 10!

The Uber-Cool SETI@Home screen-saver!

The Uber-Cool SETI@Home screen-saver!

 

   Tired of waiting for E.T. to call? Late last year, the distributed computing program that started it all, http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/, turned ten. One of the most scientifically ambitious programs run before bedtime, SETI@Home showed us that computers could do more than display flying toasters in their spare time.  In fact, word of the first SETI@Home way back in ’99 initially convinced us here at Astroguyz that we probably should get a home computer, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Sure, the Vulcan home world has yet to present itself, but this is one of those experiments that even one confirmed positive hit would have some amazing implications!

In 2001, SETI@Home essentially became the world’s largest collective super-computer. But what you may not realize are the changes that have been made, and the ones that are in store. In 2006, a multi-beam sky survey was introduced. Then in 2007, the Astropulse Survey was launched. Further upgrades to come are a Near-Time Persistency Checker, searches beyond the current 2.5MHz Band, and new methods of limiting terrestrial radio interference, as well as a means for users to share new data. What we’d also like to see is a dedicated SETI@Home platform, perhaps via the Allen Telescope Array. SETI currently piggybacks off of Arecibo data, which itself spends most of its time staring at extra-galactic sources, not prime alien country. Anyway, if you haven’t, now’s the time to donate that idle CPU time for what could be the discovery of this or any other century!