While your computer is running idle, it could be finding new pulsars and black holes in deep space.If you want to enlist your computer into the service of science, Wikipedia maintains a list of projects.
Three volunteers running the distributed computing program Einstein@Home have discovered a new pulsar in the data from the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope. Their computers, one in Iowa (owned by two people) and one in Germany, downloaded and processed the data that found the pulsar, which is in the Milky Way, approximately 17,000 light years from Earth in constellation Vulpecula.
“The way that we found the pulsar using distributed computing with volunteers is a new paradigm that we’re going to make better use of in astronomy as time goes on,” said astronomer Jim Cordes of Cornell University. “This really has legs.”
About 250,000 volunteers run Einstein@Home, on average donating about 250 teraflops of computing power — equivalent to a quarter of the capacity of the largest supercomputer in the world, says program developer David Anderson of University of California at Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, co-author of the Aug. 12 discovery announcement in Science.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Here's an announcement of how "civilians" have helped to make an astronomical discovery. From Wired Science: