About SETI@home


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The science of SETI@home

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.

Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver's electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power.

Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.

Papers about SETI@home science and computing:

SETI@home is based on BOINC, and is an outgrowth of the original SETI@home (now called 'SETI@home Classic'). Details of the transition are here .

Project personnel

Dr. David P. Anderson, Director

David is a computer scientist, with research interests in volunteer computing, distributed systems, and real-time systems. He also runs the BOINC project.

David is a rock climber, mountain climber, classical pianist, and father of Noah (born Oct 2005). Email him at davea at ssl dot berkeley dot edu.

Dan Werthimer, Chief scientist

Dan specializes in signal processing for radio astronomy. He has been doing SETI since 1979, and he runs the SERENDIP, Optical SETI, and CASPER projects.

Dan dabbles in jazz piano, and is the father of a 4-year old son, William.

Dr. Eric Korpela, Project scientist

Eric is an astronomer. In addition to SETI, he studies interstellar matter (the gas and dust that lies between the stars) using radio, optical, and space-based ultraviolet telescopes. He has participated in several satellite missions, most recently SPEAR/FIMS, a collaboration between US and Korean astronomers.

In his spare time, Eric collects and restores vintage computers. Eric also enjoys bass fishing.

Jeff Cobb, Software developer and system administrator

Jeff develops data acquisition and analysis software and oversees the systems group.

He likes to go off line in order to backpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. When in warm waters, you'll find him scuba diving.

Matt Lebofsky, Software developer and system administrator

Matt is a computer scientist working on SETI since 1997. More detail about what he does can be found here.

Matt is also a professional musician - a multi-instrumentalist composer and recording engineer that tours with rock bands and performs at weddings, conventions, etc. In spare time he's probably hiking, backpacking, or rock climbing.

Andrew Siemion, Project Scientist

Andrew is an astrophysics Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. His research activities focus on designing instruments and experiments to detect rare and novel radio phenomena.

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