Back when I was an undergrad, one of the geeky rages at the time was running SETI@home on your desktop (since everyone had desktops back then). SETI@home was one of the distributed computing pioneers which allowed one to use their PC’s idle time to analyze packets of radio signal data in search of signs of extra terrestrial intelligence. I think had a couple thousand hours analyzed by the time I left UVic.
Distributed computing has made some advances since then and one is now able to participate in any number of collaborative projects using Berkeley’s BOINC interface system. This software was available in 2002, so it’s hardly new but there are literally dozens of projects on the go now. (for a full list, go here).
The SETI project made a brief appearance on the The Current this morning, sparking a renewed interest in the concept of distributed computing…besides, I need a new screensaver.
I downloaded the BIONC software and decided to participate on the climateprediction.net project.
The aim of the Climateprediction.net project is to investigate the uncertainties in various parameterizations that have to be made in state-of-the-art climate models (see "Modelling The Climate"). The model is run thousands of times with slight perturbations to various physics parameters (a ‘large ensemble‘) and the project examines how the model output changes.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but right now my Sony is chowing down on 353 hours worth of high-in-fibre climate model over a time period of 1810 to 2050.
Beats the crap out of research exploring the impact of bicycle paths on ice cream sales.