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SETI

"The analysis code of the customer program was written by Dan Werthimer, Mike Lampton, Charles Donnelly si Jeff Cobb,and was implemented by Jeff Cobb. Other contributor programers were: David Anderson, James F. Causey, Ragnar Hojland Espinosa, Charlie Fenton, Kelly French, Kyle Granger, Patrick Keane, Eric Korpela, Matt Lebofsky, Michael Pfeiffer, Brian Pike, Stein Sandbech, Brad Silen, Ted Wright, Steffen Zahn, Charles Congdon, and Hiram Clawson. Philippe Verdy and Ron Hipschman helped with the creation of the web site. Bob Cowart wrote the documentation. Many thanks toCraig Kasnoff, who attended the discussions that shaped the project and made the key introductions. Ralph Derrickson supported this project from the conception moment and provided precious financial and management consulting."

(from the site SETI@home http:// setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu)

26 (twenty six) people create a program of 704 kb unarchived, and waht's more, this program is free of charge. What for? For a project involving four individuals working half time and two volunteers. Are they nuts? This is for you to judge. I like them. But what's going on?

It all started in 1996 with a scientific conference of David Gedye andCraig Kasnoff. It was the time when world had begun to change slowly or so some of us perceived. The idea was a success in the Academic world after having been exposed at the fifth Conference of Bioastronomy. The customer and server prototypes were written in 1997. In the next year, the promoters tried to raise funds to apply the idea. 1998 and 1999 are programed as testing years and 2000 and 2001 are operational years.

How did they begin? They built a site and a discussion list in 1997. Along the year, the number of participants on the list has increased to10 000 people. In September 1997, the list registered 35 000 members and the first test result was returned to Berkeley University. In 1998, the project gained the sponsorship of The Planetary Society, The Digital Media Innovation Program of California University, Paramount Pictures, Sun Microsystems, Computerized Products of Fuji Film, Informix, The Engineering Projecting Team, the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO ), and the SETI Institute.If you are curious to see the site at home, you'll be surprised to find a Romanian translation of it. The project has been launched in May, 1999. It may be now considered as the greatest supercomputerof mankind: it involves over 600,000 participants from 205 countries.

What's really happening, what's up with all this people? Many of us may have heard that if we want to look for reason -other than human- in the universe, one of the most logical ways of search is to record all radio waves coming from the darkness outside the Earth's boundaries and to study them, hoping to find an order, a pattern that could tell us something, that could mean something.

Especially, the pattern could say that we've found water, as we know that we can't hope to encounter intelligent beings or even life forms without the presence of water. Nevertheless, the radio waves are immense in number and nobody has the capacity to capture them all, let alone analyse them. More than that, taking all these into account, the most important problem for the researcher is where he or she should begin.

That is why the Berkeley group of scientists have conceived the following plan: the Arecibo observatory can record and store radio waves. The computer owners could receive very small amounts of this records, process them at home and send them back to the source program. Obviously, we, the owners of PCs just fit for games have a very tiny chance to find exactly what we're looking for in such a huge amount of information. Certainly, as so many big companies with powerful servers have come in the game and the program, SETI, has been developing for years, our chance is considerably smaller. It's only because the searched information is so enormous that our chances become comparable.

In fact, I don't want to speak about chances, not at all but about this hydra with 600,000 heads that we have become. We, the people from 205 countries. Six hundred thousand computers, old and new, supercomputers, minicomputers and humble PCs receive regularly pieces of sky for analysis.

Does it matter if I find them or you or he? What matters is that 600,000 people from 205 countries dream about the same thing, six hundred thousand people having different race, religion and life meaning look at the sky and they don't feel alone. Internet communities? Of course, there are such entities, they are shaping themselves, they are building themselves. Communities through Internet? Here we are.

NV

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