February 15, 2006
Dave Anderson of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) and his team have developed technology that lets millions of personal computers chip in (so to speak) their spare processing power to tackle some of the truly huge computational problems, problems much too big even for supercomputers.
BOINC lets you donate computer time to study everything from global warming, to protein folding, disease cures, and the search for ET. I myself have had a number of computers cranking away on these things for a while (over 6 years in the case of SETI), but up til now it's been kind of a geeks-only thing.
climateprediction.net, one of the BOINC projects, has now joined forces with the BBC to bring voluntary distributed computing into the mainstream. If you're not already BOINC-ing, go check out the BBC's jazzed-up, simplified process for getting involved. It costs you nothing and only uses your computer when you're not. I love it myself; makes me feel useful. Plus you get a really cool screensaver, if you want, that shows the progress of the computation.
From the BBC site:
Take part in the largest climate experiment ever
We need the computer power you're not using. Join in the largest climate prediction experiment ever, developed by climate scientists for the BBC using the Met Office climate model.
Go do it. Chip in. Be a part of the solution.