Want to help search for aliens and fight diseases right from your home computer?
"Volunteer computing doesn’t get a single job done any faster [than a supercomputer], but it gets a whole lot of jobs done faster in a given time," said David Anderson, a research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. "These projects encourage people to think more and learn more about science."
To get your computer signed up to do some science, first download a free program from the websites for the projects of interest. These data-devouring applications work on Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems. The applications can run in the background while you use your computers or they can make good use of your machine's idle time.
BOINC automatically detects a computer's speed and memory to give it a job that will not gum up the works and detract from a user's experience, Anderson said.