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Space Science

500-fold Increase in Data Flow from SETI Telescope 346

Posted by Soulskill
from the et-in-crystal-clear-high-defintion dept.
coondoggie brings us an article from Networkworld about a flood of new data for the SETI@home project. We discussed something similar a few months ago when a new telescope array went live. The vast amount of processing power required to handle the new data is prompting the SETI@home team to make a plea for more volunteers. Quoting the press release: "What triggered the new flow of data was the addition of seven new receivers at Arecibo, which now let the telescope record radio signals from seven regions of the sky simultaneously instead of just one. With greater sensitivity and the ability to detect the polarization of the radio signals, plus 40 times more frequency coverage, Arecibo is set to survey the sky for new radio sources."
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500-fold Increase in Data Flow from SETI Telescope

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  • sounds like (Score:4, Informative)

    by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:15PM (#21903944)
    Sounds like a good time to re-install BOINC and start up SETI.
    • by fm6 (162816)
      Didn't Seti@Home used to have their own client/agent/whatever?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trouvist (958280)
        Yes, and I personally found it to be much much better than the BOINC system they use now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Only if BOINC has learned to be a good neighbor. I took it off my machine about 2 years ago because it thought it had an unlimited right to every cycle my cpu had. Setiathome NEVER ran that piggish. The planetary folks have so far ignored all pleas to run it at about nice 20 so we could have our machines back. The old setiathome client always ran at a high niceness.

      I got the plea to rejoin the effort, and told them exactly the same, no way Jose till its fixed. No reply, as if I expected one.

      --
      Cheers, G
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SETIGuy (33768)
        Informative? BOINC has always run applications at nice 19 on unix and at low priority on windows. It also has the option of watching every tty and the mouse for input in order to stop processing if anyone is in an interactive session. The parent poster has no idea what they are talking about.
  • FoldingAtHome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by perspectival (906492) <zabinac@NOSPam.nc.rr.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:16PM (#21903952)
    Protein Folding should take precedence over pointless searches for noise-in-patterns.
    • Although you're probably going to get marked troll you're right.

      The cancer and other medical projects your can donate your processing power to are far more important then a fruitless search for aliens.
      • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:54PM (#21904298) Journal
        I guess it depends. You could always argue that An alien race was found and they were technologically advance or already found a cure for many of the diseases and were willing to share. Or they were a warlike race bent to destroy Earth cause we spied on them... Either way, you might not have to worry about cancers and disorders anymore.
        • except that alien races discovered would likely be hundreds of light years away, or more. so unless they happened to be broadcasting their encyclopedia galactica, we wouldn't necessarily learn much, even if we could make sense of it. and they wouldn't know that we had received their transmissions until hundreds of years later--or thousands, depending on exactly how far away they really are.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Probably true -- except that if there are other intelligent races out there, they've probably been unwittingly transmitting their equivalent of radio and television entertainment out into space for at least as long as we have, and the way things are going here it's very likely in that case that their entertainment is orders of magnitude higher in quality than what we've been turning out for the last few decades. ;)
      • oh I dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Quadraginta (902985) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:01PM (#21904364)
        There's a logic error here, I think. By this logic, we should do nothing except the very highest priority thing in our life, and society should pour all of its resources into the very most important priority. For example, we should all live in a thatched hut, eat weeds and grubs, wear the untanned raw skins of animals (or just go naked), and slave 18 hours a day so all our labor and energy can go into....whatever the single highest social priority is...curing cancer, fighting war 'n' injustice, whatever.

        Which is silly. The goal of life is maximize overall satisfaction, not accomplish one single highest goal. It's important to rank your priorities, of course, both as an individual and as a society. But the notion that because A is "more important" than B implies ipso facto that A should get all the resources and B should get none is maximally silly.

        Indeed, it's kind of OCD obsessive to always be focussed on pursuing the Top Goal, the kind of thing that when we see people doing it in practise -- giving up everything, including enough sleep and good nutrition, to, say, play World of Warcraft and become the biggest baddest player -- we conclude they need to do some growing up.
        • by LingNoi (1066278)
          I just don't think wasting CPU cycles on finding signals that are over 10 million years old is a good idea. By the time they receive a response from us their race could have been dead for millions of years. It's pointless.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Spoken like an ignorant minded bigot. As your GP said, Grow up. If everyone gives up one anything considered by others as pointless, nothing in this world would ever get done. While you consider this pointless, others do not. I would rather do both protein folding and SETI.

            I might also argue that protein folding is pointless since all you're doing is saving the life and therefore the DNA of an "inferior" person with a genetic disease. Why save them so they continue to pass on bad DNA? Why not let them
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by missing000 (602285)

              Remember Gallileo? He said the Earth was round.
              No, he said the earth was not the center of the universe. Buy a history book. The ancient Greeks accurately measured the circumference of the earth about a millennia before that.
          • I, and others I'm sure, leave their computers on 24/7 for other reasons, why not use that resource for something? Oh, so far as using it for medical research or somesuch: Is Big Pharma going to PAY me for my CPU time? If not then they can bite me, because that Cure for Cancer I'd theoretically be helping find, would come with a BIG price tag if I found myself in need of it, and you KNOW that.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by HermMunster (972336)
              I used seti@home when it first came out. Ran it for a couple years. Then I had reinstalls and other issues and other priorities, so I stopped. When I decided to give them some more time I found that their new client, BOINC, was cryptic and difficult to get established so that I got credit for my prior packets. They also changed the way they calculated things. I liked it better when I completed a packet and got credit for that packet.

              After having upgraded to so so many more modern computers (I must have
        • by Torvaun (1040898)
          Diminishing returns. After a certain point, it's pointless to continue pouring resources into a project. Really, the best way to go is to spread your resources into several things.

          Now, clothing and shelter are important. They may not be important enough to justify all the resources that are poured into them, but they have use and value. Can you name a single benefit of SETI? Out of all the CPU cycles that have been thrown at radio signals, have any of them been of use? Folding@home has at least produc
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            While SETI just looks for aliens, it also finds abnormalities or unusual signals which then further our understanding of cosmology.
          • Benefit of SETI (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spineboy (22918)
            They started and demonstrated that distributed computing was a viable way to solve huge problems. SOmetimes basic research doesn't have an immediately applicable product - but sometimes the groundwork they lay provides for fruitful endeavors - e.g. Apollo program. No one thought electricity would be terribly important when it was first discovered, or the phone either. Give it a chance - maybe finding aliens might make us put aside our petty differences as countries.
        • by tekiegreg (674773) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:38PM (#21904648) Homepage Journal
          I'd wholeheartedly agree with you, so then my life's great priority list is as follows

          1) Breathe
          2) Sleep
          3) Procreate
          4) Eat
          ...
          1444) Find Cure for cancer
          ...
          2137832) Find extra terrestrial intelligence

          Ergo when I have some computing power to spare I'll devote some to the cure for cancer, when I have the United States's entire Internet worth of computing power, I'll spare a little to extra terrestrial intelligence :-)
        • For example, we should all live in a thatched hut, eat weeds and grubs, wear the untanned raw skins of animals (or just go naked), and slave 18 hours a day....
          I was with you up until the slavery part.
        • You're not wrong, but not really that right either. There should be a balance, but seti@home is a tax on people who are bad at math, but like babylon 5.
        • Re:oh I dunno (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bdjacobson (1094909) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:59PM (#21905386)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma [wikipedia.org]

          Finding this in the parent's post is left as an exercise for the reader.
        • There's a logic error here, I think. By this logic, we should do nothing except the very highest priority thing in our life, and society should pour all of its resources into the very most important priority. For example, we should all live in a thatched hut, eat weeds and grubs, wear the untanned raw skins of animals (or just go naked), and slave 18 hours a day so all our labor and energy can go into....whatever the single highest social priority is...curing cancer, fighting war 'n' injustice, whatever.

          W

      • by jacquesm (154384)
        Cancer is systemic though, a real cure for cancer would probably have some mechanical component. If you live long enough you *will* develop tumors, if you're going to die of them or not is another matter altogether. Put another way, if your average lifespan would be 35 years instead of about 70 in most 'developed' countries then the chance of dying from cancer would go down substantially.

        And who knows, maybe the aliens *do* have the cure for cancer and by diverting cycles away from the 'search for aliens' w
    • Re:FoldingAtHome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TeknoHog (164938) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:27PM (#21904084) Homepage Journal

      Protein Folding should take precedence over pointless searches for noise-in-patterns.

      So what are you doing here, wasting your important CPU cycles?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by penrodyn (927177)
        > Protein Folding should take precedence over pointless searches for noise-in-patterns.

        Exactly, you're a hypocrite.
    • Parent is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:48PM (#21904248) Journal
      People should have a free choice about the causes they donate to. If you made everyone pick Protein Folding, it would be akin to just another tax.

      Just because you think you know what people should do, doesn't mean you do.

      • No, You're Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by perspectival (906492) <zabinac@NOSPam.nc.rr.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:18PM (#21904512)

        Did I say that people's spare CPU cycles should be mandated to SETI? As if that were feasible or even possible?

        When I say that Protein Folding *should* take precedence over SETI, I'm simply making an appeal to people's personal priorities--and mine favor understanding and curing diseases over inconclusive alien signal-hunting every day of the week.

        Yes, you're free to choose for yourself what cause you want to help out. As you should be. And I'm free to try to persuade others to help a very worthwhile cause:

        http://folding.stanford.edu/ [stanford.edu]
      • by BeanThere (28381)
        People should also have freedom to tell others on a forum what (and why) they believe others should donate their cycles to ;) ... you can simply choose not to listen to them. Nobody is 'forcing' anyone, yay freedom!

        Personally I say "Go Folding!!" but I'm biased, I am at risk of inheriting (and have in my family) a currently uncurable and fatal deadly protein misfolding disease which has the potential to help be cured by that kind of research --- so for me there is even a sense of urgency in the matter.
    • Re:FoldingAtHome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jafiwam (310805) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:12PM (#21904458) Homepage Journal
      Protein folding is important, however discovery of ETI ranks up somewhere along with; fire, wheel, tools, calculus.

      Find a protein, you change many lives for the better.

      Find ET, and you change the course of the human race forever.

      I will choose what to do with my extra CPU cycles myself, thank you very much. To me, ET is more interesting.

      (Yes, I should know, it was my computer that discovered the candidate object for SETI@home back in 2004. Got on TV and weekly reader for that. What have YOU done with your spare CPU cycles?)

      My only regret is BOINIC runs so crappy and is so hard to manage (come on, install a program that crashes upon resume, gotta dig out the right profile, gotta figure out how to sign up for projects = fail).

      • by Dirtside (91468) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:44PM (#21905238) Journal

        Yes, I should know, it was my computer that discovered the candidate object for SETI@home back in 2004. Got on TV and weekly reader for that. What have YOU done with your spare CPU cycles?

        Congratulations! You accomplished nothing and yet managed to get on TV for it. You're right up there with Paris Hilton.

        We're obviously each free to choose whatever project we want to donate our spare CPU cycles to (or none at all, if we so choose). Nonetheless, I would encourage people to support projects like Folding@Home over projects like SETI@home, mostly because even if we do discover the existence of ETI, the consequences are unpredictable; assuming they're not close enough to visit or communicate with in a reasonable timeframe, then the sole effect of the discovery would be to cause chaos amongst humanity (how many religions would go berserk apeshit if they discovered that Earth isn't God's special place after all? -- on the other hand, maybe a lot of religion would go away once people realize that We're Not Special, and that'd be a nice side benefit -- but still, very unpredictable).

        It's also exceedingly unlikely that SETI will ever find an ETI, regardless of whether there are any ETIs out there. F@H, on the other hand, has already provided us with a lot of useful information about biology, and is clearly advancing the cause of science toward the specific goal of curing diseases. As a result it seems like a much better investment in MY long-term health for me to be spending my cycles on F@H.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Protein folding is important, however discovery of ETI ranks up somewhere along with; fire, wheel, tools, calculus.

        Yes, but spending your spare cycles on protein folding will actually accomplish something.
      • Find ET, and you change the course of the human race forever.

        Given the history of human civilizations discovering one another, it's pretty safe to say that each one of these interactions has resulted in disaster for the less advanced side. What makes you think the outcome would be any different if another civilization discovers us?

        But, hypothetically speaking, let's say all of the sci-fi shows you watch are optimistically correct, and instead of inadvertently wiping us out, the ET's instead come in peace a
    • by BeanThere (28381)
      I certainly don't think SETI@Home is pointless, however, I do agree that Folding@Home should take MUCH higher priority at this point in human history, as it can have a direct impact on helping to cure diseases which affect millions of people today (including probably hundreds if not thousands of slashdotters) ... I'd rather see people first focus on that kind of research, and then later we can worry about finding alien radio signals, which if they are there now will probably still be there ten or twenty yea
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by penrodyn (927177)
        Do you think as lay people, we should tell federally funded scientists what to work on? I for one would like to see research done on many fronts, we can afford it as a society given the vast sums of money society spends on a worthless war. It is ironic though that many of the techniques being used to investigate cancer today were developed from work done in the 50s and 60s on viruses that infect bacteria. Now if you were in charge, I presume this work would never have been funded, let's be honest who really
    • it's only pointless until ... do-do-do-do-doooo! (close encounters theme)
      With the odds of finding a signal so low as it is, maybe the signal we find will already be the encoded protein folding solutions.
    • by WgT2 (591074)

      You are spot on.

      Besides, haven't we learned anything from Hollywood? If we alert the aliens to our presence they'll just come and make food and sport of us!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SETIGuy (33768)

      Protein Folding should take precedence over pointless searches for noise-in-patterns.

      Distributed computing isn't an either/or proposition. Right now the BOINC infrastructure hosts at least 42 projects, and at least three of those are health related (malariacontrol.net [malariacontrol.net], rosetta@home [bakerlab.org], predictor@home [scripps.edu]). When a volunteer starts BOINC and joins a project, they are presented with a list of many projects.

      If SETI@home gets the 3 to 5 fold increase in volunteers that they hope for, it's a very good bet that every other BOINC based project will see significant increases in their volunteer base.

    • At least you had the guts to stand behind that statement by NOT posting it anonymously. I don't think the two things have to be mutually exclusive, though.
    • I'm curious: Do you feel the same way about all space-based ventures? Are manned orbital missions and space probes also a waste of money in your opinion?
    • "Protein Folding should take precedence over pointless searches for noise-in-patterns."

      I'm a big fan of divserity, myself. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if one day a cure for cancer ended up coming from seemingly un-related research. I'll grant you that SETI isn't likely to reveal the key. But, taken to the other extreme, putting all our eggs in one basket does not guarantee faster success.
  • If they want more people then they should get rid of that silly bonic thing. I never liked it.
    • by zrq (794138) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:50PM (#21904268) Journal

      Me too. Last time I used it the Linux install involved way too many steps. It is packaged as a 'generic' Linux binary, and left up to the individual to tweak it to fit their particular system. I am quite happy to contribute spare cpu cycles to the project, but at the moment I don't have the spare sys-admin cycles required to setup, configure and babysit the software.

      If they want more people to install it, they need to do something like create a RPM installer and setup a yum repository. If the installation was as simple as 'yum install bonic' plus a simple Python configure script to set the project URL, then ReadHat could/would probably add it to Fedora. Which would mean that 1000's of people would see it listed in the install options, and some of them would probably give it a go.

      The other reason I left was the change in the way that stat were reported. When I started, their website showed a headline figure of number of CPU years in the last 24hrs. To me, seeing that figure increase as the project gained more users was a real incentive to add machines and contribute more to the project. It gave you the warm fuzzy feeling that we were all contributing to what was at the time one of the largest computing projects in the world.

      Now everything is listed as teams competing for 'credits', whatever they are. I didn't join to earn 'credits', I joined to participate in one of the largest collaborative computing projects in the world.

      • by gsn (989808) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:06PM (#21904398)

        If they want more people to install it, they need to do something like create a RPM installer and setup a yum repository. If the installation was as simple as 'yum install bonic' plus a simple Python configure script to set the project URL, then RedHat could/would probably add it to Fedora. Which would mean that 1000's of people would see it listed in the install options, and some of them would probably give it a go.
        It is on the Ubuntu box I'm sitting in front of at the moment.

        gnarayan@munin|~> apt-cache search boinc
        boinc-app-seti - SETI@home application for the BOINC client
        boinc-client - core client for the BOINC distributed computing infrastructure
        boinc-dev - development files to build applications for BOINC projects
        boinc-manager - GUI to control and monitor the BOINC core client
        kboincspy - monitoring utility for the BOINC client
        kboincspy-dev - development files for KBoincSpy plugins

        There are plenty of tools to convert debs to rpms

        The other reason I left was the change in the way that stat were reported. When I started, their website showed a headline figure of number of CPU years in the last 24hrs. To me, seeing that figure increase as the project gained more users was a real incentive to add machines and contribute more to the project. It gave you the warm fuzzy feeling that we were all contributing to what was at the time one of the largest computing projects in the world.
        You can still see this - login to your account (from boincmgr) and it shows you that - if anything today you get more stats - I know how many total users there are - it still is very much one of the largest computing projects in the world. I also know what the highest position I stood in the world is (if only that was my slashdot UID), where relative to my team, where relative to my country, how much credit I got from each work unit, how much credit I got on a day to day basis...
        • by zrq (794138)

          It is on the Ubuntu box I'm sitting in front of at the moment.

          Glad someone made an easy install for Ubuntu :-)
          Not seen one for Fedora yet :-(

          .... I also know what the highest position I stood in the world is (if only that was my slashdot UID), where relative to my team, where relative to my country, how much credit I got from each work unit, how much credit I got on a day to day basis...

          Yep, I know that I can see the stats, or 'credits', for my account :

          • SETI@home member since 8 Jul 1999
  • YETI@Home (Score:5, Funny)

    by Charles Dodgeson (248492) * <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:22PM (#21904016) Homepage Journal
    All my spare cycles are working on Yeti@Home [phobe.com]
  • Arecibo Shutdown? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XPisthenewNT (629743) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:26PM (#21904080) Homepage
    I thought they were going to shut down Arecibo or move to an array of smaller antenna's or something? Did the plan change or am I making this up?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:27PM (#21904082)
    Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees twenty-two minutes declination ... no sighting.
    Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees twenty-three minutes declination ... no sighting.
    Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees twenty-three minutes declination ... no sighting.

    etc. ad infinitum
  • by atarione (601740) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:36PM (#21904166)
    i was kinda interested in this at one point then when I installed SETI@home i realized that it made my proc max out 24x7 and shoot up to it's load temps (obviously) and of course use more electricity. i decided that I wasn't willing to stress my equipment or pay for the electricity to run this type of software ( I do of course realize you can set the amount of cpu it uses.. but still) I think that all these distributed projects kinda try to gloss over the fact that it isn't free to participate ... and given the $100+ a barrel oil at the moment people that chose to participate should probably be made more aware of what the costs and wear and tear impacts really are.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      Yeah, I don't know what universe you're living it, but the one I live in, we don't have cool running processors. There are no desktop (or even laptop) processors today that are incrementally clockable. There's a few that can halve the clock speed.. there's a few that can even quarter it.. but that's about it. That means for every second that you only need to execute 1000 instructions because you are idle, your 2GHZ processor is actually executing 1999999000 "nop" instructions (if you prefer, insert power
      • by XanC (644172)

        The other posters are right; the halt instruction is executed by all modern browsers and OSs, and dramatically decreases CPU power use (as well as A/C required to move the heat out, much of the time).

        Also, by the way, cycles (Hz) are never base 2 units, they're always base 10, so 2GHz is 2000000000Hz.

    • by Xelios (822510) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:06PM (#21904400)
      The difference between idle and full load power use on processors nowadays is on the order of 20W (though admittedly this is more like 60W on processors like the Core 2 Duo if you have SpeedStep enabled). 50 hours at full load before you've used a kilowatt more energy. Given an average energy price of $0.13 per KWh that's a pretty small amount, on the order of $2 per month. It's still something, but to me the work done for SETI or Folding@Home is at least worth the price of a cappucino every month.

      Processors are also built to run at full load, as long as it holds a good steady temperature (say 50C) you might see its lifespan decreased from 30,000 hours to 20,000 hours. What they're not built for is constant temperature cycling between load and room (off) temperature. Turning your PC off at night will likely have the same affect on its lifespan as constant load does. Again, to me at least, it's worth it. I replace the CPU every 2-3 years anyway and have yet to see one KIA.

      I do think, though, that Folding@Home is a better investment than SETI. Not that I'm not curious about finding life out there, but there are more important things to do here first.
      • by evanbd (210358)

        Whoah. Where do you buy your capuccino?

      • by syousef (465911)
        I do think, though, that Folding@Home is a better investment than SETI. Not that I'm not curious about finding life out there, but there are more important things to do here first.

        If that's your attitude there will ALWAYS be a higher priority than SETI.

        I expect these attitudes elsewhere but I'm saddened that the /. community now glorifies energy waste through the use of Christmas lights while SETI is considered a waste of energy. I expect to see this attitude elsewhere but not here.
    • by fm6 (162816)
      Yep, that's why I stopped participating in this kind of project. It's worth mentioning that this was less of an issue back in 1999, because processors didn't have the ability to clock down when they were idle. So there were indeed cycles "going to waste" though I guess it still took some extra power to use them.
    • by samkass (174571)
      I kind of wish the BOINC client had a setting for "nice the hell out of it and only use 1 processor when not idle; go full-bore when idle". Instead it's all-or-nothing when not idle, and a fixed "do not exceed" for # of processors and % load whether idle or not.

  • carbon footprint? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doppler00 (534739) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:40PM (#21904198) Homepage Journal
    I'm just curious how much energy the SETI project has used with zero results thus far. Is the amount of resources and time they are contributing to this cause really worth the incalculable chance they get a signal from an alien civilization? Having millions of PC's running at 100% doing pattern searching seems like a huge waste of energy. I'll run distributed clients myself like folding@home that actually have research results. Usually, only during the winter though (since electric heat is my only option anyway).
    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      I stopped running Distributed.Net because I didn't want to leave my PC running when I wasn't using it, and when I was using it I didn't want all the fan noise caused by the CPU running hot.

      There should be a minimum performance required for these applications so people don't run old inefficient PCs 24/7 while achieving bugger all.
    • 1,000,000pcs each consuming 400W running 24/7 for a year would use :

      1000000 * 400W * (3600s * 24 * 365.25) = 1.262304 &#215; 10^16 joules (Watt-seconds) of energy

      = 3,506,400,000 kWh

      The conversion factor from kWh of mains electricity to kgCO2 is 0.43.
      That gives you : 1,507,752,000 kgCO2.

      My calculations may be wrong, but its a big number :)
      • by netik (141046)
        400W?

        Nearly every computer we have in our labs is 100-200W. Don't believe what you read on the power supplies.
      • by SETIGuy (33768)

        1,000,000pcs each consuming 400W running 24/7 for a year would use :
        The conversion factor from kWh of mains electricity to kgCO2 is 0.43.
        That gives you : 1,507,752,000 kgCO2.

        My calculations may be wrong, but its a big number :)

        But remember that that those million PCs are probably going to be on anyway, and the difference between idle and full power (but screen off) consumption is more like 40W, not 400W. So you've overestimated by at least a factor of 10, so it 150,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, or the amount emitted by 28,000 cars used in an average manner. It still sounds like a lot, but....

        If every one of the 120 million households in the US replaced a single 60W incandescent bulb with a 15W compact fluorescent, it wo

    • by jafiwam (310805)
      The results;

      - Bring distributed computing to the public eye, open the eyes of many researchers it is a tool they can use for certain kinds of tasks. (Think folding@home would have gotten where they did without SETI@home paving the way?)

      - Bring distributed computing to the cryptographer eye, so the KGB can use your grandmas infected Windows box to break NSA messages.

      - Bring contributions and publicity to the SETI projects so when the selfish-assed Bush regime shut off funding it could survive.
    • by evanbd (210358)

      The search for extraterrestrial life has dramatic impacts on our own continued chances for survival as a species. As such, I'd say it's an inherently important problem [gmu.edu]. I'll take almost any amount of help to species-level survival over cancer drugs.

      Note also that a null result is not the same as no results. Both a null result (failing to find ETI) and a positive result (finding it) convey useful information.

    • by syousef (465911)
      I'm just curious how much energy the SETI project has used with zero results thus far. Is the amount of resources and time they are contributing to this cause really worth the incalculable chance they get a signal from an alien civilization? Having millions of PC's running at 100% doing pattern searching seems like a huge waste of energy. I'll run distributed clients myself like folding@home that actually have research results. Usually, only during the winter though (since electric heat is my only option an
  • by filbranden (1168407) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:48PM (#21904258)
    Arecibo? I thought they were closing it? At least they recently lost around 75% of their fundings [slashdot.org].
  • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@NoSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:11PM (#21904454) Homepage
    Fine, I'm burning cycles running a project that may (heck, when it comes to SETI, probably) won't see any tangible results.

    But how is contributing to a project that was the basis for mainstreamed distributed computing any more wasteful than blowing 9 hours a night on WoW? I'd love to see a breakdown of the increased energy usage from a high-end CPU and a good video card vs. a PC that's on anyway and running BOINC when it's idle.

    Screaming "carbon footprint!!" about something as trivial as BOINC is the real waste. Here, I've swapped 80% of the lights in my house for CFL's, and I burned 10 bucks worth of electricity last month (with an electric heater and 4x computers in the house no less!) does make me green enough to spare some processor cycles now?
  • Fucking ignorant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:20PM (#21904524)
    "Oh, but it uses my precioussss energy!"

    Of all the things in the world that monumental amounts of energy are 'wasted' on each day (powering bin Ladens dialysis machine,lighting the creationism museum,all the power used by all the dictators and oppressors of the world who shouldn't be allowed to LIVE let alone use resources), 'wasting' a few of them LOOKING FOR FUCKING EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE doesn't even come CLOSE to being classified as a 'waste'. FUCK! Am I at the wrong site?!!
    • by evanbd (210358)

      Besides, looking for ETI is important [gmu.edu], too.

      I agree completely, though -- whatever happened to doing things because they're fucking COOL? Aren't we supposed to be nerds, here?

    • by Phroggy (441)

      Of all the things in the world that monumental amounts of energy are 'wasted' on each day (powering bin Ladens dialysis machine,lighting the creationism museum,all the power used by all the dictators and oppressors of the world who shouldn't be allowed to LIVE let alone use resources), 'wasting' a few of them LOOKING FOR FUCKING EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE doesn't even come CLOSE to being classified as a 'waste'. FUCK! Am I at the wrong site?!!

      Um, yeah, it's a waste, because there's no extraterrestrial life to find. If all this number-crunching were actually resulting in real scientific discoveries that actually benefited mankind, then I don't care if it also leaves open the possibility of finding aliens, but if the whole thing is useless if no aliens are found, then the whole thing is useless, because aliens won't be found.

      It always amazes me when the same people who make fun of Christians for believing in a God we can't see put just as much f

      • because there's no extraterrestrial life to find

        Care to explain how you reached that conclusion?

        It always amazes me when the same people who make fun of Christians for believing in a God we can't see put just as much faith in their belief that extraterrestrial life must exist out there somewhere. At least we have the Bible; what the hell is your belief based on? UFO sightings? The historic account of Eric Cartman's anal probe as revealed in cartoon form?

        Look, I poke fun at Christians because of stuff like this... No joke. Didn't your high school have some mandatory science [sciencebuddies.org] classes [rochester.edu]? BTW, I'm not quite sure which is more credible, the Bible or any given UFO reporting.

        Faith is not a requirement to look for answers, and it doesn't obviate the need to either.

  • Distributed programs like this aren't a waste of energy when you're trying to heat your home. Electric heat costs just as much when you get it from a computer as when you get it through a base-board. From a pure heating standpoint, useful computer calculations are pure byproduct. 200W of heat from a processor costs the same as 200W of heat from the heater. Funny how this should come out in the middle of winter (for most of the 'net connected population).
    • When you use resistive electrical heat, in most cases you're wasting 2/3 of the fuel energy at the power plant and in transmission losses. This applies whether you're using baseboard heaters or computer chips. That's one reason that it's so hideously expensive compared to gas heat or electric heat pumps, and it's why resistive heating is rarely used in locations with any substantial heating requirements.
    • by Rakishi (759894)

      200W of heat from a processor costs the same as 200W of heat from the heater.
      Most heaters are not electric and gas or oil costs a lot less than electricity.
  • I couldn't keep up with the processing power they required after the second version was released. The wherecasking for too much and I had to bail.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:14PM (#21904986)
    My first thought was that some aliens discovered spam...
  • by doggod (1081287) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:48PM (#21905278) Journal
    I almost never see anyone take note of what I deem to be the only to-date achievement of SETI -- defining a larger and larger region of space where it is known that there are no radio signals indicating intelligent life. Everyone seems to be focused on the expectation -- seemingly bordering on the religious -- that ET life will be found because it just HAS to be there.

    I would note that there is no fundamental reason for this axiomatic proposition, and it makes much more sense simply go with the data rather than stubbornly cling to a belief for which there is so far not a shred of evidence -- much as the creationists do with regard to geology and archaelogy, I would note.

    Maybe sometimes some evidence will appear for ET life. That will be interesting, if so. In the meantime, we have a rapidly growing contrarian body of evidence, so we should accept as our tentative conclusion that we are, in fact, the only life in the universe.
  • I had to pull out the hip waders for this thread.

    Folding vs SETI isn't about weighing the importance of curing cancer versus finding aliens. It's an argument about using resources for a useful research tool versus using resources on a horribly inefficiently process which may not even be capable of finding what it's looking for.

    You could use the investing money versus playing the lottery analogy, but it's really like comparing investing money versus digging through people's trash looking for a winning lott
  • I would happily split my PS3 processing power between SETI and Folding - but the only client offered (that I can find) is Folding. I've always wondered why there is no SETI client as well, does anyone know the story there?

    • I would agree. If they spent a little more time developing decent clients for ATI GPUs and PS3s, they'd easily have the horsepower to crunch this new data. When the PS3 client hit FAH, my four dual core P4s were able to keep me in the top 50 of my group... but not nearly toward the top after the PS3s and ATI GPUs started kicking my ass.

  • by deft (253558) on Friday January 04, 2008 @03:45AM (#21906812) Homepage
    I dont know, who wants to bet Seti finds an alien race with obviously advanced technology that will cure cancer faster than we can find the cure?

    wow, really seems like 50/50 to me...
  • by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Friday January 04, 2008 @06:57AM (#21907606) Homepage
    I tried to install BOINC and could not find a way to hide the tray icon. It seems to be not running unless it displays the said icon. When I tried to install it as a service, I could not figure what username and password to supply so it doesn't fail to initialize the service (yup, I'm not a geek).

    Come on, I want to install the client, configure the SETI task and settings ONCE, then forget about it completely and forever, let it run in background without reminding me of its existence, ever, period. I do NOT want my desktop cluttered by an extra tray icon. I've ditched it.

    The old SETI screensaver did not display anything on the desktop while not running.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:25PM (#21910234)

    I hope that people realise that by covering 7 regions of the sky instead of one, and 40 times as much spectrum bandwidth as before, assuming that aliens are as likely to emit on any of these frequencies (which after all is not such a bad assumption considered we don't know a thing about them), statistically that will make us discover alien signals 280 times faster than before.

    Very basically, that means that if we were say 1,000 years from finding an alien signal with the previous setup (which you can't say sounded so unlikely, I mean we barely listened for 40 years, and not always with the means we have now), we are now 3 years and a half away from that instead.

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