Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

SETI Space Heaters Converted to Einstein

einstein_thermometerI’ve been a SETI@home participant since 1999. Occasionally the project, which searches for ETs, has technical difficulties and our computers run out of work to do. Usually these outages don’t last long but we’ve just experienced a bad-un and my computers went three weeks without work.

The problem with this is that I’ve become used to my computers keeping my p[a]lace warm, usually too warm in the summer, but in the winter at my old house in my bedroom where the radiator didn’t work, a computer or three was sufficient. Now that I have my own house I’ve been waiting to see if a computer in each room will be sufficient through the winter, but then one of the project’s servers went down, and the temperature in my house plummeted with it – the thermometer up on the wall near a computer was typically hovering around 20’c but once things went cold it dropped to 11’c.

A woolly jumper and an extra pair of socks were the order of the day, luckily I’m the only person living here, and I’m used to going outside and cycling in all weather, but it was getting a little silly in doors with it being only 2-3 degrees warmer than outside. I really didn’t want to put the actual heating on, to I though about temporarily switching my computers over to an alternative project.

The last other project I’ve taken part in is Folding@home but I went off that for reasons previously mentioned, and those reasons meant I couldn’t justify burning electricity for the sake of it (I think heating a home with actual central heating is more cost-effective than using computers). Looking back further, to December 2005 in fact, I had signed up to Einstein@home. I’m not sure why, and I didn’t make much headway. Einstein@home also comes under the umbrella of BOINC, just like SETI and list of other projects. I looked through that list to take a fresh “which other project is best” look. Einstein came out on top. As Wikipedia says, instead of looking for ETs:

[Einstein@home looks] for evidence of continuous gravitational-wave sources, which are expected from objects such as rapidly spinning non-axisymmetric neutron stars. A sister project examines radio telescope data from the Arecibo Observatory [which SETI@home also uses], searching for radio pulsars. Running on the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software platform, Einstein@Home is hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, Hannover, Germany)…

Interesting stuff right?

I was also aware that the SETI@home team I’m in (GPUUG) also participates in Einstein, so I signed up and gradually switched most of my computers over for the duration of the SETI outage. I’ve made good progress too. I got my RAC (Recent Average Credit) up to the same level of SETI – 90K (although they’re not directly comparable), making it into 8th place in the team, and just scraping into the top 20 (almost, at the time of writing) based on Total Credit. While Einstein doesn’t push the computers as hard (it doesn’t have the benefit of a ‘Lunatics’ app to do that) so things don’t run as hot, my rooms with computers in have been at a healthier temperature.

Work for SETI@home is starting to flow again, so I’ll be gradually switching my resources back to there, but perhaps I’ll still help out with that project in a small way – it has been fun.

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This entry was posted on 8 December, 2014 by in Computers, Science, SETI@home and tagged , , , , , .
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