Nov 26, 2012— read in full
Finding galaxies with your computer
Sep 14, 2011
Most of the time, your computer isn’t using all of its power. But that spare power is valuable to a team of astronomers in Australia. They want volunteers from around the world to donate their spare computing power to help process information from their radio telescopes.
To help, volunteers download a piece of software which receives data from the telescopes over the internet, does calculations on it, and sends it back. Each individual computer only has to do a small amount of work, so the user should hardly notice the program is running, but if enough people join in the network of machines can become more powerful than a top-end supercomputer.
This idea, called “distributed computing” or “grid computing”, is also used to investigate protein folding (a process in the body which is thought to cause diseases like Alzheimer’s when it goes wrong) and to analyze radio signals for evidence of alien life.
But the new project, named theSkyNet after the evil computer network in the Terminator films, has an extra incentive for volunteers: the top contributer will win a trip to the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory where the project is based.
Would you donate your spare computer power? Share your thoughts by posting a comment using the link below.