Several years ago, scientists at University of California, Berkeley came across a situation in which more data was being gathered by a radio telescope than could be analyzed by any single computer. The solution to this problem was to use the idle time of personal computers all around the world. This resulted in the creation of SETI@Home, a downloadable application that would do some calculations on a very small piece of the gathered data. The results would then be returned to SETI@Home’s servers to be combined back with results from other computers all around the world. This later branched into BOINC, a project that allows one to choose from multiple projects such as SETI@Home and run many projects on one computer. The user can even allot how much time is spent on each project. BOINC runs at a low priority on one’s computer, which means when other programs (Word, Internet Explorer, etc.) request the processor, BOINC hands it over and allows the program to do as it wishes. When the program is done, BOINC picks up where it left off.
The Bad Astronomy/Universe Today forum currently has a team for four of the BOINC projects. The team is named BABB, but that will soon change when the BAUT forum name is finalized. The name will change to reflect the BAUT name. Though the team is named after the forum, those who are not a part of the forum are welcome to join.
The Einstein@Home project searches for spinning neutron stars known as pulsars by searching for gravity waves in data from the LIGO and GEO gravitational wave detectors. Anyone wishing to sign up for Einstein@Home can do so here and can sign up for the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today team by clicking join here.
The LHC@Home project allows for the simulation of a particle travelling through a large particle accelerator that is due to be completed by 2007 by CERN known as the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Anyone wishing to sign up for Einstein@Home can do so here and can sign up for the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today team by clicking join here.
The SETI@Home project searches for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence through radio waves received from the Arecibo Observatory. Anyone wishing to sign up for SETI@Home can do so here and can sign up for the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today team by clicking join here.
The orbit@home project will take data from observations of asteroids and calculate their orbits. This will assist in the search for any asteroids in an eventual collision course with the Earth, as well as catalogue the orbits of the asteroids. This project is not running yet, but soon will be in the test phase. Member creation is shutdown for the time being. The project will have to be tested for a while before it goes online.