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Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 14:23:28 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Off topic...

For anyone who's interested, there is a distributed computing project for
sifting radio telescope data for extraterestrial signals (SETI@home).  A
group at UC Berkeley takes data from the facility at Arecibo, Puerto Rico,
divides the data into manageable chunks, and distributes it via internet to
all participants.  Participants download the data packets (about 350K at a
time), and run processing software on their computers.  The processing
software operates as a screen saver, or as a background process (your
choice), so it doesn't interfere with your regular use of the computer.
You don't actually have to *do* anything with the data, except
occassionally upload and download it (which the program takes care of). The
processing is very calculation-intensive: only by breaking it up over a
million computers do they get sufficient computing power (without having to
buy several dozen supercomputers).  Something over 1,000,000 people
currently participate in this.  If you're interested, you can sign up at

The time to process each packet varies depending on your computer.  I'm
currently running the program on both my office Mac G3 and my home Win95
computers:  the Mac takes about 14 hours to complete a cycle, while the
Pentium 166 takes more like 150 hours.  I've set up a "user group" that
includes both accounts: "contrabass", of course ;-)  You're all welcome to
join: just download the software first, then go to
and sign up.  There's no particular incentive or reward (apart from the
possibility that your computer will detect the first real signal), other
than assisting in a scientific project, and getting a free screen saver ;-)



Grant Green  

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