Macs (and of course PCs with Linux or Windows) can be powerful tools when their collective computing capacity is aggregated on a network. If you're interested in exploring how you can contribute to important causes with that Mac sitting on your desk, here are dozens of science projects that could benefit from the gigaflops of computational power that you're currently using for kitten videos.
Black hole depiction. Image credit: Shutterstock
Of course, there is the computational science that real scientists do on Macs. That could include scientific visualization tools, either commercial or developed in-house, typical computational languages, such as Fortran or Python or a host of other technical software tools.
However, all that work is beyond the scope of this small article. Instead, I want to focus on what average user can do to contribute the excess computational power they have available to worthy scientific projects. There are two great lists I want to present here. Take a look!
One of the earliest and very valuable projects listed there is the legendary SETI@home which helps radio astronomers sift through mountains of data to look for a signal from an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization.
Another is Climateprediction.net which uses massive networked computation power to predict the Earth's climate 50 years from now.
There are many, many more like this you can contribute to. Dozens. I counted 27 projects that are listed in the Berkeley list above that have support for Macs. Pick one.
Another benefit of these projects is that many young people who find themselves in touch via remote computation could well become inspired to make a career of science and work on the professional side.
So, Mac users: start your computational engines!
I wish to thank Dr. Gaurav Khanna from the Physics Department, College of Engineering, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for his assistance pointing me to these lists of projects.