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Page last update 3rd July, 2003.
What is SETI@home?
SETI@home is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence at home.
It is project dedicated to looking for signs of life amongst the many radio signals which reach Earth. All the signals discovered so far have been natural background radiation, but one day we may discover evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence.
The processing of the signals is farmed out to individuals around the world who offer their unused computing capacity, all the time that their machines are sitting idle, to help with project.
Is there any hope at all of finding this elusive signal?
Not really. The odds against it are staggeringly huge.
So why do you do it?
Well I participate for the following reasons:
1. Using technology in this grand and ambitious manner, in the persuit of such a worthy goal, however hopeless, appeals to my geek nature.
2. The listed stats turn it into a kind of competition, allowing me to pit the power of my assembled computers against the rest of the world, both by myself and as part of the Dwarfers Team, representing the assembled proccessing might of the readership of the newsgroup alt.tv.red.dwarf!
3. The power of the assembled computers is constantly going up, as the number of participents and the power of the individual machines increases. One day we may get the point where our chances of finding anything are within a reasonable betting figure.
I found a very good adage in Tom Clancy's "The Bear and The Dragon", one of the books I read on the train into work.
Apparently there was a Roman General or leader of some kind who proposed the idea of planting trees besides the roads to sheild his marching troops from the sun. When it was pointed out by one of his advisiors that it would take 20 years for the trees to grow, he merely said "We'd better get started then!". That's the kind of attitude I approve of - giving up before you start will never take us on towards what may be the single most important discovery of human history.
How can I join in?
This one is best explained by this set of links:
The Official SETI@home website
This is where it all starts. Dowload the client here, and find more information on the project.
A Free SETI client watcher
This neat program will allow you to run the much faster command line version of SETI, while still watching your stats, and several other useful and interesting options.
My Team, The "Dwarfers"
If you too have an interest in Red Dwarf, you may wish to join the official team of the newsgroup alt.tv.red.dwarf