Profile: Joel

Personal background
I analyze data to try to save money for the government by reducing waste and improving treatment in Medicare. They need all the help they can get. I'm under no illusions about what kind of benefits I'll be getting in my old age. But for now, I get a paycheck for picking at the edges of the problem (yes, it's a lot less than I help save).

I am training to be a private pilot, and between flying, my wonderful girlfriend, work and keeping the SETI computers running, I don't have a lot of time for advancing human culture. But if I were better at managing my life, I'd spend a lot more of it on my art
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
There are too many planets* orbiting too many stars in too many galaxies for life not to have arisen somewhere out there. We don't really understand how life started here, but given that I work with statistics all day, I am sure that whatever conditions led to life here can and will occur somewhere else, given the sheer number of likely planets. And perhaps life can arise under other conditions on planets that are not at all similar to Earth, as well. Maybe there are giant jellyfish aliens living inside gas giants. I think it's silly to doubt for even a second whether there is life on other planets, and there are too many people on this one who never even ask the question because of their assumptions about how the universe works, so I'm hoping that we can fundamentally alter their perspectives by finding the life that must be out there. Hopefully the things that our various SETI efforts are looking for are the right ones, but they're the best we've thought of so far, so it's worth a try even if we're misguided in our current methods. If we are looking for the right things, it's only a matter of time before we find them. If not, it's only a matter of (more) time before we decide that looking for these specific things is not worthwhile and we should move on to some other type of SETI method. We will discover one of those things thanks to all of us who participate in SETI@home.

I ran SETI Classic under a different user name (long lost to old computers and the mysteries of cyberspace), dropped off for a number of years, started up with BOINC when that was new (same story, lost that user name), dropped off again, and finally started up again for real with some dedicated computers. I'm hoping that I can get my machines to a point where my RAC is in the top 500. I will be pretty comfortable at that point knowing that I am doing something to one day help humanity understand its place in the universe.

*Not long ago, we basically had to assume that other stars had planets, but luckily we are now finding that many stars do in fact have planets, and as of this writing, we have just discovered several planets that are similar in mass to Earth, meaning they are not huge balls of gas, probably made of rock, and are not right next to their stars.
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