Earlier today, everyone in the office was talking away about how we might have made contact with extraterrestrials (due to what was potentially a “signal” that was picked up three times.
Then, a bit later, everybody calmed down.
But for a while there, I was all excited and downloaded SETI@home again.
For those who don’t know, the SETI@home project divides analysis work to anyone who cares to participate. Instead of using one gigantor computer to crunch all its data, the people at SETI are employing volunteers via the Internet.
Here’s how it works: You sign up. You download their program. The application then grabs a small packet of radio telescope data. Then, depending on whether you want the program to run in the background (or only as a screensaver), your computer sifts through this packet of data looking for what it considers a “signal.” So… either as a background process, or as a screensaver, you can utilize your computer to try and find a message from space.
I used to do this ALL the time, back when I was in grad school. For a good number of years, I participated in this, and went through a fair amount of data. Reading about a potential signal today got me all excited, and I’ve logged back on in the hopes that I can keep adding stats to my user account.
Here’s a screenshot of what the program looks like when it’s running:
I don’t know if you can see it, but in the right corner there, it lists my stats. And it also lists my username as “Penfold.” Like I said, this was back when I was in school – and long before this whole “Portnoy” identity came about.