archive: SETI@Home NYT Item

SETI@Home NYT Item

Larry Klaes ( )
Fri, 21 May 1999 08:45:54 -0400

>Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 23:21:44 -0400
>Organization: SkyViews Astronomy & Space information Web Site
>X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.04 [en] (Win95; I)
>Subject: NEWS
>May 20, 1999
> Got a Computer? Help Find E.T.'s Home by Calling
> From Yours
> There's something irresistible about the idea that anyone
with a PC and a
> connection to the Internet could discover evidence of
> intelligence.
> The SETI@home program, run by the University of California at
Berkeley, is part
> of a worldwide effort known as Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence, or SETI.
> SETI@home collects and analyzes data from the giant
1,000-foot-diameter radio
> telescope at the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto
Rico. Earlier this week,
> the project's Web site ( began
distributing software
> that will enable home-computer users to help the scientists
crunch their numbers.
> The site was quickly overloaded with requests. So far, the
number of downloads
> has risen to 200,000.
> "Conservatively the total number of users will be half a
million," said David
> Anderson, a computer scientist and director of SETI@home.
> When SETI scientists around the country lost their
Congressional financing in
> 1993, they were forced to seek new sources for the tremendous
amount of
> computing power required to analyze data taken from the sky.
In 1996, David
> Gedye, a former Berkeley computer science student, had the
idea of giving
> hundreds of thousands of Internet users a discrete piece of
the sky to analyze on
> their PC's. The result is a giant experiment in distributed
> "We've been using a whole bank of computers at night but had
never thought
> about harnessing the power of the Internet," said Dan
Werthimer, the project
> scientist and a research physicist at the Space Sciences
Laboratory at Berkeley.
> The software functions as a screen saver, analyzing the data
only when the
> computer is idle. Once the chunk of data has been analyzed, a
process that could
> take several days, it is returned to Berkeley in exchange for
another slice of the
> sky.
> And, said Werthimer, if your screen saver finds alien life,
"of course you'll become
> quite famous."
> Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company
>Jay Respler
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