archive: APOD for May 17 on SETI@Home

APOD for May 17 on SETI@Home

Larry Klaes ( )
Fri, 21 May 1999 09:30:54 -0400

How to Search for Aliens
Credit: SETI@home, UC Berkeley SETI Team

Explanation: "Mom, can I use our computer to search for
aliens?" Last week, the SETI@home project released free
software that enables many home computers to search for
signals from intelligent extra-terrestrials.

These signals may have already been detected by the huge
Arecibo radio telescope, but gone unnoticed due to the large
amount of data that has been accumulating.

SETI enthusiasts David Gedye and Craig Kasnoff realized that
the enormous amount of computing power in people's homes
might help. The resulting software can work as a screensaver
and so after downloading a chunk of data, will only search
for alien signals when the computer is otherwise idle.

When running, the software will generate images like that
shown above: a changing Fast Fourier Transform plot highlighting strong
periodic signals. Although more likely to find false-
alarms like known Earth-orbiting satellites, if your computer
finds a true ET signal, SETI@home promises that you will be
given due credit.