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Re-observation of SETI Signal Candidates

The SETI@Home project allows people all over the world to volunteer time on their Internet-connected computers to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In the four years or so that this project has been running, over a million years of computing time have been donated by individuals like myself, and by organizations and corporations that run the SETI@Home software.

The data used in the project comes from a survey done at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and over the next three days that observatory will be focused specifically on the 150 most promising signal candidates identified by the project.

It is possible that an artificial signal of extraterrestrial origin will be found, which would certainly rank among the greatest discoveries in scientific history. It is also possible that none of the candidates will fulfill their promise, which would also be very important information, as it would tell us about the scarcity or dearth of signals of the kind we're searching for.

I just checked my stats, and I've been participating in SETI@Home for three and a half years. I'm over 1400 workunits now, putting me in the 97th percentile out of over four million active users!

Thanks for the BBC link, Alex!

Update:Metafilter is discussing this, starting with a Planetary Society release.


does downloading the SETI software slow down your computer? Any other risks?

I run it as a screensaver under Windows, and it only runs then and when I launch it explicitly, so it doesn't slow down my system unless I've got some heavy duty processing going on while I'm away and the screensaver kicks in.

Re: the only risk I can think of: I highly recommend you set the screen to go blank five or ten minutes after the screensaver kicks in, because SETI@Home, although doing a good job on the data, is not good as a screensaver (parts of the display are unchanging and can burn in).

You also have to have your computer on, of course. If you turn it off when you're away or at night then SETI@Home will have less time to run, so consider your habits before installing. The analysis is divided into smaller tasks called workunits, and the software will probably need to run for something like 10-30 hours (depending on a lot of stuff) to complete a workunit.

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