The Arecibo Radio Telescope - Arecibo, Puerto Rico
SETI@Home is a systematic, scientific study of radio signals in a attempt to find evidence of life outside our solar system. The SETI@Home project has been running since May 17, 1999. It is expected to run about two years. The Arecibo Radio Telescope dish is 1000 feet across with the antenna hanging 450 feet above the dish. The dish is fixed, but the antenna can swivel to cover +/- 20 degrees from the zenith. The SETI @ Home program only has four part time employees and 2 volunteers to run it. The last time I checked (8/18/99) there were over one million participants in over 220 countries.
The data collected by the Arecibo Radio Telescope is broken up into work units that the screen saver (available for free download at the site below) can collect over the internet, process while your computer is not in use and then return to SETI for further testing.
The screen saver has four parts. The first section, User Info, shows your name, and the amount of time you have been processing work units. Data Info shows the date, time and coordinates of the work unit currently being processed. The most important part of the screen is the Data Analysis section, this reports on the ongoing processing of the data. The first step is Baseline Smoothing, which eliminates natural noise from the signal. The next step is the Fast Fourier Transform, a mathematical process to find "spikes". Then, the Chirping process tries to account for the Doppler effect (changes in frequency due to movement) on the signal. Curve Fitting is the checking to see if the signal gets stronger and weaker in the "gaussian" manner expected of an extraterrestrial signal. The Freq-Time-Power Graph shows a representation of the data as it is being processed, the colors are just for appearances, they have no meaning.
I have been part of the program since June, I have two PC's at work that are on all day and have a full time connection to the internet. They were processing work units in about 40 hours until I discovered you could have the screen saver graphics "blank out" and nearly double the processing speed. I have joined the Yahoo SETI Club Team, a great source of infomation on the program. My stats as of (10/28/99) were:
|Total CPU time||Average CPU time
per work unit
|Steve Henderson||218||235||6466 hr 54 min 51.1 sec||27 hr 31 min 07.6 sec|
Your group info:
|You belong to the group named: Yahoo SETI Club Team
You are not currently the founder of any teams.
Your rank: (based on current workunits received)
|Your rank out of 1358166 total users is: 25537th
The total number of users who have this rank: 137
You have completed more work units than 98.110% of our users.
Check out this strong signal... it looks cool. The screen saver terminated early, and I have been told this is a sign that it is almost certianly local interference. Oh well!
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