5 years ago… Use your PC to search for alien life

And the search continues to this day… perhaps they don't want to be found?
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

And the search continues to this day… perhaps they don't want to be found?

04.08.98: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme is developing software to assist in the search for alien life forms. The University of California will launch a website at the end of the year which allows users to download chunks of data gathered from the world's largest telescope in Puerto Rico. The software then uses the subscriber's PC to process the data and feed it back to the University. Ian Morrison, senior engineer at UK radio telescope complex, Jodrell Bank, said: "What they are doing is using home users' PCs, with the software installed so when the PC is not being used, the software can pull in data from the world's biggest telescope, the Arecibo in Puerto Rico, and analyse the data. Once the data is analysed it is then sent to the research department in California for further analytical work." 04.08.03: And thus began the craze… The SETI screensaver has become ever-present in offices around the world over the past five years as users hand over the computing power of PCs which would otherwise stand idle. As yet the SETI project has failed to unearth an ET, but the service has signed up 4,610,643 members to date - a feat which has brought with it 1,563,792 hours of computing time, returning 981,219,109 results. But perhaps the most important numbers to bear in mind are the financial facts and figures which at times have hinted the project may implode through lack of funding. Other problems undermining the efforts of the project include concerns about widespread cheating in the race to return the most work units. Whatever happens with SETI in the long term, however, it has certainly proved a catalyst for much 'thinking outside the box' in the IT industry. As a model of how effective grid computing can be, SETI has breathed new life into research, with more and more projects adopting the distributed computing model and major companies getting involved in rolling out kit for all things 'grid'.
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