Most of the time our computers are just idling along hardly using up any of the processing power available. For a number of years I'd been involved in the SETI project that used the spare time that your computer has to do some science!
This used some software that ran in the background and as a screen saver to basically do some number crunching. The idea was that there are millions of idle computers in the world that could be used to help out processing the vast amounts of data that the scientists collect that would take them years, or billions of pounds worth of computing equipment, to process.
As time passed the software has developed further and is now called the "Berkeley Open Infrastructure For Network Computing", or BOINC. This is used to help process the data associated with many projects including climate change, cures for diseases and astronomy (where we help out) amongst others. A list of projects can be found here.
More detailed technical information on the history and how BOINC works can also be found here.
Go on and give it a go! You never know what you may help discover...
For a bit of fun try this link.
The graphic on the right should be a fairly up to date view of our contributions!
If there's no graphic it probably means the stats are being updated.
I used BOINCstats to produce the above graphic.
If you're running BOINC and want a similar graphic (you can include them in e-mail signatures, or forum post signatures as all you need is the link to the graphic).
You can do this two ways:
- By using the search at BOINCstats and looking for your user name in the projects you participate in;
- By registering an account with BOINCstats and pointing that account at the projects you participate in (but see the tip below).
In the first case you will get one of these graphics per project you participate in since your account with each project will be unique. In either case you are looking for your "URL for signature graphic" which you'll find under 'detailed statistics'. It'll be something like:
XXXXXX in this instance is whatever your user ID is. Then all you need to do is copy that HTML into wherever you want it - BOINCstats seems to update these once per day.
TIP: If you want a consolidated graphic for all your projects then you need to ensure that the e-mail address and password are the same for the project AND for BOINCstats. BOINCstats links these projects together via the BOINC Cross Project Identity (CPID). It's fairly straightforward to do this for each project (via the project account settings) but you will have to validate the e-mail address change.
To get a single page summary of the projects you work on, this link is also good (go to the search at the bottom of the page).