About SETI@home

The science of SETI@home

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. 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.

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

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.

Papers about SETI@home science and computing:

SETI@home is based on BOINC, and is an outgrowth of the original SETI@home (now called 'SETI@home Classic'). Details of the transition are here .

Project personnel

Dr. Eric Korpela, Director

Eric is an astronomer. In addition to SETI, he studies interstellar matter (the gas and dust that lies between the stars) using radio, optical, and space-based ultraviolet telescopes. He has participated in several satellite missions, and is currently Instrument Scientist for the EUV spectrograph aboad the NASA ICON mission to study the interface between the ionized and non-ionized portions of the Earth's atmosphere.

In his spare time, Eric collects and restores vintage computers. Eric also enjoys bass fishing. You can email him at korpela at ssl.berkeley.edu.

Dr. David P. Anderson, scientist and software architect

David is a computer scientist, with research interests in volunteer computing, distributed systems, and real-time systems. He co-founded SETI@home and directed it from 1998 to 2015. He leads the BOINC project, and is leading Nebula, the back-end data analysis phase of SETI@home.

David is a rock climber, mountain climber, classical pianist, and father of Noah (born Oct. 2005). Email him at davea at berkeley dot edu.

Dan Werthimer, Chief scientist

Dan specializes in signal processing for radio astronomy. He has been doing SETI since 1979, and he runs the SERENDIP, Optical SETI, and CASPER projects.

Dan dabbles in jazz piano, and is the father of a 12-year old son, William.

Jeff Cobb, Software developer and system administrator

Jeff develops data acquisition and analysis software and oversees the systems group.

He likes to go off line in order to backpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. When in warm waters, you'll find him scuba diving.

Matt Lebofsky, Software developer and system administrator

Matt is a computer scientist working on SETI since 1997. More detail about what he does can be found here.

Matt is also a professional musician - a multi-instrumentalist composer and recording engineer that tours with rock bands and performs at weddings, conventions, etc. In spare time he's probably hiking, backpacking, or rock climbing.

©2024 University of California
SETI@home and Astropulse are funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and donations from SETI@home volunteers. AstroPulse is funded in part by the NSF through grant AST-0307956.