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What is SETI@home?

Are we alone in this Universe?

A question that every era of man has pondered but no-one been able to work out.

There are many pages dedicated to SETI@home, but there is no better place to learn about SETI than the Official SETI website.  A good place to start is "Learn About SETI and SETI@home".

That said, here is my little summary of the project for those that don't want to read very much.  It points out the main points I think.

SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyses (in screensaver mode or in the background) radio telescope data. 

The masterminds behind the SETI@Home are a group of astronomers and engineers who are attached to the SETI project based at the University of California–Berkeley. 

The SETI program only needs to connect for a few minutes to download 1 work unit (approx 370K).  After that all work is done offline by the program until the work unit is fully analysed, at which stage you send back the results and get your next unit.

Processing Work Units for each star takes a huge number of calculations.  All up, there are around 175,000,000,000 calculations required to process a single Work Unit for a given star! In computer terms that is between 10 to 100 hours of offline idle screensaver time (very much depending on your computer speed) for your computer to analyse the data.

Time Line of SETI@Home

20 November 1998
Began recording data at Arecibo Radio Telescope

17 May 1999
Official launch of SETI@home project

June 1999
600,000 participants on-board in only four weeks

August 1999
1 million users participating after only three months

October 1999
Accrued over 100,000 CPU Years of computer time

June 2000
Over 2 Million participants and 300,000 CPU years

March 2001
Over 2.8 Million participants and 600000 CPU years

May 2002
Over 3.7 Million participants and 1 MILLION CPU years!

To see current stats on number of users world wide and total CPU years click here...

The huge number of participants is significant. They do not represent the governments or granting bodies that normally fund scientific projects. They are ordinary human beings from all walks of life, and all corners of the globe.  The project is a means by which ordinary people can have a say in the scientific projects they choose to support, rather than leaving it up to the politicians and the bureaucrats. 

Each computer that runs the program adds to the chance of finding Extraterrestrial Intelligence! Every Work Unit (chunk of data) contributes towards the goal of listening to every star in Arecibo’s sky two or three times.  It only takes one Work Unit to find ETI!  It just has to be the right one.

If ETI is found an the IAU telegram will be sent out (the normal protocol for announcing major astronomy discoveries to the world press). 

If your computer processed the Work Unit containing the signal, your name will be listed along with the SETI@home researchers as having made the discovery!

Our team is a group of people that have come together to support SETIs effort.  Originally this team was created for Flinders University Hall residents (a residential college at Flinders Uni) but as friends started to invite other friends and family (and even total strangers!).  Recently we changed our team name to "SETI Synergy" a team for everyone and ANYONE who wants to crunch with us!