SETI@home screensaver

About the SETI@Home Project


SETI@home ("SETI at home") is an Internet-based public volunteer computing project employing the BOINC software platform, hosted by the Space Sciences Laboratory, at the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States. SETI is an acronym for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Its purpose is to analyze radio signals, searching for signs of extra terrestrial intelligence, and is one of many activities undertaken as part of SETI.

SETI@home searches for possible evidence of radio transmissions from extraterrestrial intelligence using observational data from the Arecibo radio telescope. The data are taken 'piggyback' or 'passively' while the telescope is used for other scientific programs. The data are digitized, stored, and sent to the SETI@home facility. The data are then parsed into small chunks in frequency and time, and analyzed, using software, to search for any signals (that is, variations which cannot be ascribed to noise, and hence contain information). Using distributed computing, SETI@home sends the millions of chunks of data to be analyzed off-site by home computers, and then have those computers report back the results. Thus what appears an onerous problem in data analysis is reduced to a reasonable one by aid from a large, Internet-based community of borrowed computer resources.

SETI@Home and BOINC Software


The SETI@home distributed computing software runs either as a screensaver or continuously while a user works, making use of processor time that would otherwise be unused. The initial software platform, now referred to as "SETI@home Classic", ran from May 17, 1999 to December 15, 2005. This program was only capable of running SETI@home; it was replaced by Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), which also allows users to contribute to other distributed computing projects at the same time as running SETI@home. The BOINC platform will also allow testing for more types of signals. For a more in-depth look at how the SETI@home Project works, please click here.

To participate in the SETI@home Project, you must have the BOINC Software installed. After instillation of BOINC, you simply choose SETI@home from the projects list it displays.