The search for ET has begun, and we have the best team on board for this seemingly impossible task: the cool famed scientist Professor Stephen Hawking along with web billionaire Yuri Milner. The two are working on a 100million project which also aims to involve the public’s computer processing power. Armed with your computer, mac, tablet or even your phone, you can join this adventurous quest too! Leaders of the massive Breakthrough Listen search have rightly put crowdsourced processing – and open source computing – front and center in their 10 year search for extra terrestrial life.
“In searches such as this, the more eyes you can get on the prize the better,” Todd Thibodeaux, president at tech industry association CompTIA, told me upon hearing the news. “Harnessing the personal interests of possibly hundreds of thousands of people makes sense and couldn’t be accomplished cost effectively any other way.”
“It’s really important that projects requiring crowd sourced processing capture the public imagination such as this so that many people get involved,” adds IDC research director Alys Woodward.
The decision to involve a global database makes a lot of sense too. The volume of data could never be effectively gathered and analyzed without this processing power. Linking into the massive SETI@home initiative, which already has three million members of the public allowing space scientists to draw on their spare computing power, is the only way to process all the data being taken over thousands of hours each year from two of the world’s most advanced radio telescopes.
The project will employ the use of the BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) collaborative processing platform which is available to a number of astrophysics, medical and mathematical endeavours. The free BOINC app is available for Android phones (alas, not iPhones) and the computer download is here. The cellphone app relies on Wifi and promises not to eat up phone data.