Remember SETI@Home? It was all the rage a few years back. In fact, our own SETI@home team was once the #9 Club Team in the organizationis competitive team rankings. Everyone was running the UC Berkeleyis application that siphoned off spare CPU time from millions of otherwise idle computers to analyzing signals from space in a quest to find intelligence. It didnit matter that finding such signals was a long shot at best, especially since the frequencies examined were but a thin sliver of what intelligent signals could ride on -- just the thought of helping to look for intelligent life in space without actually doing much was enough to get people involved.
Many people still run SETI@Home as a background process or screen saver, never bothering anymore to see how many work units theyive completed. The fact is, even though SETI@Home examines a small band of frequencies, it looks at a large swatch of the sky while doing so. That generates a lot of data, which, in turn, requires a lot of computing power. It has taken many millions of hours to cull signals containing possible intelligence from the background noise of the universe -- in fact, the project has used some 1,363,694.117 years of CPU time. Despite that, many of us have pretty much forgotten about project.
While you may have forgotten about SETI@Home the scientists who have collected the results from the program have not. According to a Wired News report by Leander Kahney, a group of scientists will get together to look over the best results from the SETI@HOME project to determine which signals should be examined more closely. From the Wired News article titled Alien Life Search Inches Forward:
Scientists behind the worldis largest distributed computing project are about to take a closer look at some of the most promising of the billions of radio signals theyive collected in their search for intelligent life in outer space.
Between March 18 and 20, SETI -- which stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence -- astronomers will visit the giant Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico to re-examine between 100 and 200 of the best radio signals from space, which have been identified by millions of home computers working in concert.
SETI@Home is a volunteer program that uses the spare computing cycles of ordinary home computers to look for signs of alien life in outer space. Participants download what is essentially a screensaver program, which switches on when computers are idle so it can crunch data.
SETI@Home has sifted through billions of radio signals and identified the most likely candidates.