(The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence at Home)
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For those of you not knowing, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a worldwide program originally funded by NASA which utilizes many arrays of radiotelescopes all over the globe, in order to scan the night sky for signs of ET's. If you saw the movie "Contact" (staring Joddie Foster) you might have an idea. The data collected by radiotelescopes has to be processed and scanned for signs of signals sent by alien lifeforms. The process requires excessive amounts of computer power, so this has been a very limiting factor - until a few months ago.
This was when the program SETI@home, originally conceived in 1996, started operating. Through this program, any Internet user anywhere on the planet can help SETI people to process radiotelescope data. This is done through a special program that works like a screensaver. This means it doesn't require any knowledge and it won't take you any valuable time. Of course, if there are any results, you will be the first to find them out.
Also, the SETI@home program keeps track of all the participants (who are over 3.5 million) and shows the most work done by participant, by country (Greece is around 26th) and by Group...
Which takes us to the Group situation. Participants can work together in groups and their overall score (data blocks completed) is listed. A team from Thessaloniki is doing very well (27th overall!), so is the University of Thessaloniki, so why can' t we??
So, you are encouraged to participate in the program and join the UOA Physics group.
Here is how to join the program :
1. Go to the SETI@home site :
2. Download the ~700kb program for your operating system (top of page)
3. Install the program entering your nickname, your password and - don' t forget - your country.
4. Your program will download a data block (about 0,35Mb)
which will take you several hours to process.
For example it takes 26h on my K6-233, 14h on my portable PII-300 and 6.5h on my Athlon 750 (Seti client v2.4). The newer SETI client v3.03 is slower and takes about 4h per unit on my Athlon 1600+. My current record time with client v3.03 is 3h 02min (FSB @ 143MHz, CPU @ 1501.5MHz, DDR RAM @ 286MHz - CAS2).
5. Do not forget to go back to the SETI@home site and join the group under the Universities category, letter P : "Physics department - University of Athens" . Or, go directly to the group home page an click "Join Group".
A little advice. If you have the windows version and you want to speed up the process, follow these steps:
1. DISABLE the screensaver. Enter as a screensaver "none".
2. In the SETI client preferences, choose "Data analysis always runs", even if you don' t have a fast computer.
3. Close all applications and open windows, and go to sleep. Turn off the monitor to save power.
All this is done because the screensaver is using too much computer power. If you follow the above procedure a Celeron at 333MHz, for example, will finish a unit in about 13-14 hours (for Seti v2.4, or 3-4 hours more for Seti v3.03+).
If you are using Windows NT/2k/XP download the 3.03.i386-winnt-cmdline client. It is about 10% faster than the graphic windows version.
A good utility that keeps track of your units/statistics etc. is SetiSpy
Want to listen to the radio signals from outer space? Download an mp3 - converted work unit.