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What is SETI@home?

SETI@home is a scientific experiment which uses Internet-connected computers
in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).  One approach, known as radio
SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space.
Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence
of extraterrestrial technology.

Arecibo Observatory radio-astronomy facility (completed 1963) is located at
Arecibo, Puerto Rico and is operated by Cornell University under contract with the
U.S. National Science Foundation. Its fixed spherical antenna is 1,000 ft (305 m) in
diameter, making it the largest radio-telescope in the world. Data received from this
radio telescope, and others, is scanned for radio signals which would prove that
"We are not alone".

Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico

Incoming radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise from celestial sources and the
receiver's electronics, as well as man-made interference such as television stations, radar
and orbiting satellites.  Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally and eliminate
the unwanted noise.  More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency
ranges with more sensitivity.  Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for
computing power.

Very Large Array - New Mexico

The Very Large Array (VLA) is a collection of 27 radio antennas located at the
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) site in Socorro, New Mexico.
Each antenna in the array measures 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter and weighs
about 230 tons.  The Y-shaped array can be arranged into 4 different
configurations, depending on the distance between the antennas. The VLA is an
interferometer, which means that the data from each antenna can be combined
electronically so that the array effectively functions as one giant antenna. Dedicated
in 1980, the VLA is used by astronomers from around the world to study everything
in the radio spectrum from pulsars and black holes to planetary nebulae.  It was also
used as the back drop in the Carl Sagan movie "Contact", to Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence .

Jody Foster as Ellie Arroway in "Contact"

Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the
telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio
SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected
computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home
was originally launched in May 1999.  Currently, there are 645,310 users in 246 different
countries involved in the SETI project linking their idle computer time together.


The SETI project is run at the University of California, through their Berkeley Open 
Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).   BOINC is a software platform for
distributed computing, using volunteered computer resources.  A BOINC project can
provide computing power equivalent to a computer with tens of thousands of CPUs.
 Computers attached to the SETI project through the Internet by BOINC, download
and scan thousands of packets of data received from the Areciebo radio telescope. 

My  Personal  SETI  Statistics

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My SETI @ Home "Classic" Workunits Certificate - I Joined SETI on September 08, 1999

Click To Join  SETI at Home

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For  Carl...

Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996)
was an American astronomer, astrobiologist and a highly
successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics, and other
natural sciences. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the
Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).  He is world
famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and
presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos:
A Personal Voyage, which has been the most widely watched
PBS program in history.

Earth As Seen By Voyager 1 At A Distance Of 4 Billion Miles

In 1989 both Voyager spacecraft had passed Neptune and Pluto.
Carl Sagan wanted one last picture of Earth from "a hundred thousand times"
as far away than the famous shots of Earth taken by astronauts from the moon
during the Apollo series.

The result is stunning. In Sagan's words, "Because of the reflection of sunlight
off the spacecraft, the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there
were some special significance to this small world. But, it's just an accident of
geometry and optics. The Sun emits its radiation equitably in all directions. Had
the picture been taken a little earlier or a little later there would have been no
sunbeam highlighting the Earth.

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love,
everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was,
lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident
religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero
and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every
young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer,
every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme
leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there -
on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood
spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could
become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.  Think of the endless cruelties
visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable
inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager
they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds."

"Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some
privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our
planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in
all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us
from ourselves."
"The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else,
at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit yes. Settle,
not yet.  Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand."
--Carl Sagan
from Pale Blue Dot 

Carl Sagan at the VLA