et 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 project.

The aim of the 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.

6 Responses to

  1. Baoru says:

    Nice! Before, NASA had a similar thing. Or was it some organization associated with extraterrestrial stuff? Hmmm…I forgot.

  2. Bryan says:

    Yeah, it was SETI@home.

  3. Bryan says:

    Man, I just realized I had an identical post to that one written pretty much exactly a year ago. Can’t keep track of my own scribbles.

  4. Kay says:

    Climate model from 1810 to 2050? That’s interesting, did they drill in ice-core or something? O_o” Also, what did data from 1939-45 tell you?

    Speaking of Climate Change, have you ever come across climate info on the Middle Ages? I remember there was a cold snap at some point in the Middle Ages and it was recorded in writing…

  5. Bryan says:

    My computer is still crunching 1812 data…it takes over 350 hours (approximately) to complete an entire model.

    I believe you are referring to the “Little Ice Age”

    It was important for the development of skiing.

  6. Kay says:

    Thanks for info! HA! I never knew it had something to do with skiing. I will look into that when I get out of the final exam.

    Since I have trouble falling asleep and will wake up around 6 to cram probability, might as well try to figure out how many hours (approx) it will reach the 1939-45 period if computer runs 24h/day.

    [350h/24h = 14.58 (15 days)]
    238yrs/15days = 15 yrs/day

    (1939-1812)/15= 8.5 (9 days)

    Wow.. that is crazy munch time for a computer/laptop if I do not take margin of error into consideration and my calculations are right…

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