8/14/2010

First Pulsar Discovery By an @Home Project

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 2:50 am

Three regular folks from Iowa and Germany are being credited with the discovery of a radio pulsar, spinning in space 17,000 light-years away, thanks to an unassuming screensaver program called Einstein @ Home.

The program, which has been downloaded to 500,000 computers around the world over the past five years, almost literally turns volunteers into Einsteins at home. It’s designed to download astronomical data, 2 megabytes at a time, and look for signs of gravity-wave bursts or radio pulsar flashes during times when the computer is otherwise idle.

The pulsar discovery, announced today on the journal Science’s website, marks the first time Einstein @ Home has had a hit. But it won’t be the last. And it gives hope that even more ambitious distributed-computing projects such as SETI @ Home could eventually hit paydirt as well.

 

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