|"There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them."|
Inspector Jacques Clouseau
|Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home|
I have a brand-new $2100 Compaq Presario 5700T, with the latest Pentium III flying at 500Mhz, 128MB RAM, a massive 27GB HDD, a cinema-sized 17" 800x600 CTR monitor, and a wow-speeded 56K modem. It also features that thing called "USB" that I even don't know what's for.
I miss MS-DOS, but I'm beggining to get used to Win98. Still too buggy, but has some improvements from Win95.
I'm connecting to the internet via 28.8 kbit/s dial-up service, using the new IE5.
There is a new search service "Google" that pretends to compete with Yahoo... Poor Google people... They will surely be beaten to dead by Yahoo as happened with Magellan, Lycos, Infoseek, Altavista and Excite.
Somehow I learned about a crazy project called "Seti@Home" wich intends to create a "super-computer" using the computing power of millions of volunteer's PCs to proccess huge ammounts of information, task impossible to do by a single computer room.
I knew NASA did it back in the late 60s and 70s, bundling some Universities' and Govt's computers, to empower the Apollo project.
But a volunteer project?... Sounds interesting. If it works, it will expand the horizon for developments in Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Medicine, anything requiring super-computer power for research, allowing that power without big budget issues.
So, to try it out, on Wednesday Oct.20 1999, at 06:44:45 UTC, I became the 870,256th registered volunteer of Seti@Home.
S@H grew, madurated, evolved.
On its original platform, wich we call "Seti@Home Classic" and runned through Dec.2005, we reached the incredible accrual of 5,436,301 registered volunteers, and had a peak of nearly 650K simultaneous active members.
In S@H Classic, we totalized 2,433,980 years of computer work (in just six and a half years).
That's how we -the S@H community- demostrated the power and feasibility of distributed computing, and have been followed by numerous projects that have added -and are adding- a lot to human knowledge in all the branches of science.
Since Jan.2006, S@H is running under the BOINC platform, struggling with lack of financial support, budget shortage, outdated hardware...
But the lab's crew at Berkeley have always found a way to continue, through a very hard work and MacGyver-like solutions, some private supporters, and a lot of generous donations from the very same volunteers who participate in the project.
So Seti@Home is still here, alive and going on.
And I'm still here too. Proud to be part of this milestone in the history of computing, until death do us part.
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