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december 18, 2000 |
search for extraterrestrial intelligence (seti)
In 1959, first modern call for SETI in a scientific paper by Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison, and the first modern radiotelescope search by Frank Drake the next year looking for radio signals. Since the early 1960s, there have been about 70 much more fragmentary or limited SETI projects of one type or another.*SETI@home* is one of this projects searching for radio signals (from the radiotelescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico).
Now SETI searches are not limited to microwave radio. Based on a suggestion made in 1961 by Charles H. Townes (co-inventor of the laser) and Robert N. Schwartz, Stuart Kingsley has long advocated laser technology as alternative to interstellar radio. Nanosecond laser pulses would be a means of interstellar communication.
A rundown of all the major efforts that are currently under way: *SETI Searches Today* By Alan M. MacRobert and Andrew J. LePage (From Sky & Telescope. Last updated November 2000; plan to keep this article current indefinitely).
"In a very real sense this search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for a cosmic context for mankind, a search for who we are, where we have come from and what possibilities there are for our future." From the introduction to the book "Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence" by *Carl Sagan*
distributed computation in seti@home
*SETI@home* Project Director, Dr. David P. Anderson said: "By using the Internet to form the world's most powerful computer, SETI@home has inspired other scientific computing projects, and is often credited (along with Napster) with defining a new generation of computer system design, called "peer-to-peer". From *SETI@home Updated and Project Status*
How does the computing power of Seti@home compare with existing supercomputers? The most powerful computer, *IBMıs ASCI White* , is rated at 12.3 TeraFLOPS (1 TeraFLOP is one trillion of operations/second or 1,000,000,000,000 operations per second). SETI@home currently gets 25.96 TeraFLOPS.
"Blue Gene" is the next powerful supercomputer currently in development (to become fully operational in 2005), to tackle fundamental problems in computational biology (in particular our understanding of the mechanisms behind protein folding). The computing power of *Blue Gene* will be more than one PetaFLOPS (one thousand trillion of operations/second or 1,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second).
distributed computing projects @home
Launched September 26, 2000. Research in HIV treatment through molecular simulations. Scientists at the Olson Molecular Graphics Laboratory of the *Scripps Research Institute* create and test models of drug compounds against AIDS. Uses *Entropia* software that "automatically downloads small pieces of data and performs calculations that model how drugs interact with various HIV virus mutations. After your computer processes the information, the results are sent back to Entropia where they are analyzed by the Scripps research team." Some of the time, Entropia's software run commercial tasks on your computer. From *FightAIDS@Home faq*
Launched September, 2000. Research molecular biophysics by simulating protein folding (how proteins self-assemble), key to understanding basics of life. With biomedical --Alzheimer's disease, cystic fibrosis, Mad Cow disease, an inherited form of emphysema, and even many cancers are believed to result from protein misfolding-- and nanotechnology --man made machines on the nanoscale-- applications. Simulating protein folding require an enormous quantity of computing power; precisely "Blue Gene's massive computing power will initially be used to model the folding of human proteins, making this fundamental study of biology the (IBM) first computing "grand challenge" since the Deep Blue experiment." From *"Blue Gene to Tackle Protein Folding Grand Challenge"*
Folding@home is made by Pande Group at Chemistry Department of Stanford University. The Pande Group used a software developer's kit for building its service, called the Mithral Client-Server SDK. "While other companies have attempted to create a distributed computing "cycle-sharing" market, Mithral has chosen to make distributed technology available to everyone (...) Become your own "cycle broker" - No more reliance on a third party to develop and maintain your application." From *"Release of Mithralıs Client-Server SDK Makes Development of Distributed Computing and Peer-to-Peer Applications Simple"*
Started in the summer of 2000, and still under development by the Dynamical and Evolutionary Machine Organization (DEMO) laboratory at Brandeis University. GOLEM, or Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanics, is a distributed evolutionary robotics and Artificial Life experiment. "A set of experiments in which simple electro-mechanical systems evolved from scratch to yield physical locomoting machines. This is the first time robots have been robotically designed and robotically fabricated." From *The Golem Project*. A contribution to the development of Physical/Mechanical Simulation (CAD/CAM), Robotic Factories (3d systems, additive manufacturing, replicator, MEMS), and Evolutionary Design technologies. This project differ in architecture: While in this others projects centralized server distributes raw data to clients and collects processed data, the Golem project is decentralized.
SETI Searches Today
By Alan M. MacRobert and Andrew J. LePage (from Sky & Telescope)
asci white 12.3 teraflops supercomputer
Scripps Research Institute
Blue Gene to Tackle Protein Folding Grand Challenge
Release of Mithralıs Client-Server SDK Makes
Development of Distributed Computing and Peer-to-Peer Applications Simple
credit: SETI@home site
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