I'm a retired Chief Petty Officer. I've been participating in SETIathome since 1999. I started with an x386 running Windows 3.1, and have worked my up to my current AMD Phenom II 6-cpu running Windows 7. I have been somewhat computer literate since the early '80s, but have been interested in scientific research since Junior High in the mid '70s!
Today, February 22, 2015 marks 15 years and 9 months that computers belonging to me have been running some version of SETI@Home. I have accumulated 2.99 million credits, along with 2929 "classic" workunits. Not too bad for a solo!!
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
Regardless of it's eventual outcome, SETIathome has proven that large numbers of computers can be used to perform enormous calculations. Lay-scientists have shown that we're willing to take the time to find, download, install, and run this program, and The Scientists have shown great imagination in finding new ways to use this power. How else might it be used? How could meteorology be advanced if 3 million computers uploaded microscale measurements of local weather across the world 24 times a day? How could Geology benefit from 3 million extra seismometers(I'm sure there's a way to build them cheap)? Or 3 million ozone measurement devices?
SETIathome is a great search for the answer to a fundamental question. That question WILL be answered eventually.