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SETI@home reaches 3 million users
Posted: Tue, May 8, 2001, 9:34 AM ET (1334 GMT)
SETI@home, a distributed computing project to look for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, passed the three million user milestone Monday. The identity of the three millionth user has not been determined, but when it is, that person will receive a prize package from the Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios that includes a lifetime membership in the Planetary Society and a DVD version of Carl Sagan's Cosmos television series. SETI@home started two years ago this month as a way to more efficiently analyze mountains of data collected by the Arecibo radio telescope for a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. Users install a program that runs when their computer would otherwise not be in use, analyzing small chunks of data downloaded from SETI@home's servers, then uploading the results. In addition to helping SETI researchers work through a backlog of data, the success of the project has jumpstarted interest in distributed computing in a number of fields. "Three million users in such a short time testifies to both the public interest in the search for extraterrestrial life and the desire for public involvement in real science," Planetary Society executive director Louis Friedman said last week.
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