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SETI@home: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

SETI@home is one of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) projects that searches for extraterrestrial life. SETI@home allows anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to take part in the search. By using the computer while the owner is away, the SETI@home screensaver is able to search for extraterrestrial signals.

Most of the SETI programs in existence today build large computers that analyze data from the telescope in real time. None of these computers look very deeply at the data for weak signals nor do they look for a large class of signal types, because they are limited by the amount of computer power available for data analysis.

To tease out the weakest signals, a great amount of computer power is necessary. It would take a monstrous supercomputer to get the job done. SETI@home is about using thousands of small computers, all working simultaneously on different parts of the analysis to do the job.

Date Listed: 10/14/2000