A way to put an idle computer to good use

I guess I’ve seen BOINC on a computer or two before (including the one I use at work, which really doesn’t have the processor power or ram to handle it); but I never realized what it is.  The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (UC Berkeley) contains a number of scientific projects that require a great deal of computing power to process data, more computing power than they have – unless they want the project to take a really long time.

So the BOINC software lets you join in on whichever projects catch your eye – you download the program and let it run when your computer would otherwise be idle.  Basically, you donate some of your computer’s processing power to help run through data in scientific projects ranging from creation of a 3D model of our galaxy to protein research (aiming at new treatments for various diseases) to climate model simulations.

I want to download this on my Sammy.  It’s only the power of a five-year-old processor, but this is still a pretty cool program.  I’d like to support it.  (Now if I had a computer powerful enough for good rendering, I could run BOINC enough that I’d surely notice the difference in my electric bill…then I wouldn’t run it as much, though.)

Thanks to SA’s 60-second science blog for the post on one of the BOINC projects.

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