Re: SETI at home: Where do we go now?

Kathie Kingsley-Hughes
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 10:42:07 +0100

Hi Joe ;-) John Bush wrote: > Great question, Kingsley-Hughes! The gap between > Great question, Kingsley-Hughes! The gap between SETI@home on > one's PC and > an Argus station is huge indeed. Yes, it is! It's the difference between software and hardware. While I have half-built station parts everywhere I look, Joe Public has only got a screensaver. Now I know several folks who are intrigued by SETI but for them it has been reduced to the value of a screensaver (and bear in mind that people change their screensavers with monotonous regularity when they get tired of looking at the same thing!) So the working lifespan of Joe Public's Public's SETI@home screensaver may not be much longer than the pipes .. the toasters .. George Clooney screensavers etc etc etc. Screensavers are fun, they are cool but Joe Public knows they are ultimately hype and so he/she changes the screensaver as soon as the hype fades. My question is really about what *we* can offer the new-age SETIZENS who come to SETI *via the screensaver*. If the only next step for Joe (and Joanna) Public is having a huge satellite dish in their back yard, together with lots of other electronic felgercarb, then Joe is simply going to change his screensaver and buy into some other temporary obsession (which is more easily achievable) .. like the Budweiser frogs <g>. > but let's cut the guys a little slack. I was running the > GIMPS, the Great > Internet Mersenne Prime Search software since last October. > Version 17 ... > think about it; version 17 ... > think about it; version 17 ... SETI@home is still on version > 1. And GIMPS > version 17 turned out to be buggy. All my computer's work > from October '98 > 'til April '99 was for naught. GIMPS survived and is now on > version 18, last > I checked. And who knows when GIMPS will discover the next > Mersenne prime? But the best thing about GIMPS was that it ran in the background - I didn't have to look at it! Now alright it was sometimes inconspicuous enough that it took me a while to notice that I was thru my data and it was time to send it back. But it didn't really interfere with my work ... or my recreation (like looking at George Clooney <g>). What will Joe think of the SETI when he looks back and remembers his SETI@home screensaver? He will probably look back and think it was cool and fun for a time and then it died like everything else. Just like I look back at my Guinness screensaver which was cool and it was fun for a time, but then it became so irritating and besides everyone else had the same one too. Is that how you want SETI to be thought of? > > Anyway, on the > Anyway, on the SETI@home page there are links to some of the > original papers > describing the goals of > describing the goals of SETI@home - as I recall some > interesting ideas not > yet implemented in their ver 1 software. Take a look; let's > think about how > SETI League might help > SETI League might help SETI@home. For a price, of course :-) > > Sincerely, > Joe Public Thanks for that - I will take a second look at the papers. And don't get me wrong, I think that And don't get me wrong, I think that SETI@home is a great step forward! We just need to make sure that there is some way of harnessing Joe Public's further interest in SETI (assuming he has any). My idea was mainly to get some ideas for interesting, stimulating, intermediate steps .. which we could build .. to <i>gently</i> encourage the new SETIZENs up from being simply screensaver owners .. to maybe eventually being amateur radio astronomers. best wishes Kathie Kathie Kingsley-Hughes ARGUS IO73vf95 "All SETI. All the Sky. All the time"

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