Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing

What is it?

A few years ago I read about SETI: the Search For Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

The SETI project asked the world to download a client program to their own computers, to help process all of the information from the radio telescopes that are pointing up at the stars looking for non-natural (i.e. produced by intelligent life) radio signals.

The client uses your CPU's idle cycles to do the computation, so you never actually notice any difference in your computer's performance. Well if you have it switched on anyway, you may as well use it ... right?

That was a few years ago and now this idea of distributed computing has expanded and there are now hundreds of projects that you can participate in. They all come under the BOINC project.

Why do it?

Combined Stats

Well, kudos of course - knowing that you're helping to research a cure for cancer or AIDS for example. I have all of my computers (both at home and work) running various BOINC projects. In May 2011, I pipped the magic 1,000,000 credits! Here are my current stats:

SETI@home

SETI@home

The project that started it all.

Climate Prediction

Climate Prediction

Well obviously, predicting climate change - a weather forecast for the 21st century, if you like.

World Community Grid

World Community Grid

This is a collection of projects within a project that is devoted to:

Prime Grid

Prime Grid

This project searches for prime numbers. Too geeky you may think, but I have a reason for joining this project:

I read a book called "The secret history of codes and code breaking" by Simon Singh, which went through encoding / encryption schemes ranging from the simplest letter substitution; through the Enigma machine which was most notably used by the Germans in World War II; then onto public / private key schemes like RSA and onto quantum encryption.

I found the book fascinating and noted how the use of prime numbers (we're talking really large prime numbers, not the likes of 13) were a key role in cryptography, hence the project.

Rosetta@Home

Rosetta@Home

Determine 3-dimensional shapes of proteins to help find cures for major human diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer and Alzheimer's.




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