SETI@home logo

I’ve just passed 2,000 work units processed for SETI@home. Actually, appropriately enough, I’m currently at 2,001. I’ve been doing this for about 5½ years now and I’ve been running this software on, I don’t know, at least 5 different computers over the years. According to my user profile, I process approximately 1 work unit per 8½ hours, and I’ve devoted nearly 2 years of CPU time. I’m sure my average time per work unit was dragged down by a year or so of running this on a 486 & then some time on a first-generation Pentium, but what can you do.

Personally, I’m in it for the glory: if my computer is the one that discovers the signal from aliens, I can be listed as a co-author on the journal pub. Do you suppose that would count towards tenure? Also, when the screensaver kicks on behind me in class, it’s a teachable moment: it’s a good opportunity for me to get into the topic of distributed computing. Of course my students probably go away thinking that I’m a total geek — He’s running software to find aliens? What a freak — but then again, they all probably thought that before anyway.

Anyway, SETI@home has changed platforms from whatever they were using before to the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, BOINC, which supports several other distributed computing projects as well. I’ve been resisting the move to BOINC since I like the SETI@home Classic graphics better than the BOINC graphics, but they’re going to discontinue supporting Classic one of these days, so I’m caving.