Donating my CPU to Science

In 2003, while I was working my first web development job at Sharp Innovations, I met someone named Bob McMullen. He taught me several things, mostly PHP/mySQL related, but he also opened my eyes to the S.E.T.I project. That’s when I first learned about distributed computing.

It’s a pretty cool concept. Essentially, there are organizations that require significant amounts of computing power. S.E.T.I, for example, collects massive quantities of data from the Arecibo radio telescope that is later processed for signals that could prove the existence of extraterrestrials. The amount of data collected is so great that one computer wouldn’t be enough. To compound the problem, these organizations are typically nonprofits that already have a financial burden that prohibits them from purchasing the hardware they need to get the job done. So… they look for volunteers.

Using the combined power of each volunteer, these organizations can leverage multiple computers to create one super computer. They accomplish this by breaking each job into pieces. These pieces are distributed to each volunteer and returned after being processed.

Extraterrestrials, however, are not the only focus of such projects. There are others that work towards a better understanding of AIDS and cancer. Since losing two close relatives to cancer (my father and grandmother) and an uncle to AIDS, I thought it would be neat to put the renderminator to good use.

So… I volunteered my PC to process work packets for the Rosetta project. Now my PC, using idle CPU cycles, is helping to find a cure for AIDS and cancer!

If you’d like to get involved, check out the BIONC project. You have nothing to lose and can put your idle CPU cycles, in other words, the CPU cycles you don’t use, to work for the greater good!

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