Science News

Help Look for Alien Life From the Comfort of you Own Home

Sun, 20th Aug 2000

Part of the show Biochemistry of Algae

We talked a few weeks ago about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (aliens!) and discussed a computer programme that allows you to help in the search too. Scientists at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico are scanning the skies for signals from space to see if any of them contain meaningful information that might indicate the existence of other intelligent life forms. The amount of information that they collect is huge and they cannot analyse it all themselves so they wrote a computer programme so that people at home can help too. The idea is that when you are not using your computer it connects itself to the project's central computer at the university of california and helps to sift through some of the signals received from space. This means that lots of computers working together can get the job done much more quickly. So far the project has clocked up 280,000 years of computer time and is attracting 2000 new computer users a day and around 2 million people have already connected their home computer to the scheme ! If you want to join in the search for aliens all you need is a computer connected to the internet, then visit www.setiathome.berkeley.edu
Interview with Astronomer Royal Prof. Sir Martin Rees about extraterrestrial life
Show featuring author and astronomer Dr. Simon Goodwin about the search for life in outer space

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