Great Computations

Owners of home computers join researchers in cracking problems and crunching data

By Ivars Peterson, 15:47 PM April 15, 2008

Computers at home or in the office often sit idle for minutes, hours, or days at a time. The Internet now allows researchers to take advantage of this enormous reservoir of unused computer power.

More than 1.6 million people have downloaded software to sift through signals collected by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico as part of a search for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Investigators at the University of California, Berkeley manage the year-old project, known as SETI@...

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