Be the first on your block to detect alien life!

Forget imaginary aliens -- with the official debut of SETI@Home, you can sign your computer up to "listen" for the real thing.

Topics: Star Wars,

Sure, you can go see the new “Star Wars” movie on Wednesday and watch imaginary battles between exotic alien forces. But why waste your time with imaginary aliens when you can search for a real live extraterrestrial using your home computer?

Don’t laugh yet — SETI@Home, the long-awaited public “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” project, officially launched on Monday. SETI@Home, the largest distributed computing project ever, will be harnessing the power of 400,000 (or more) idle computers around the world to search intergalactic radio signals for signs of intelligent life.

The SETI project has existed conceptually since 1971, although it has only been collecting data for the last seven years. The SETI@Home spin-off, which originated in the astronomy departments at UC-Berkeley and the University of Washington, has been gathering radio signals from outer space via a dish in Puerto Rico. Its supporters hope to detect something out there — think Jodie Foster in “Contact” — but the sheer volume of data the project collects is so vast that the group has needed more and more computers to analyze the data.

This is where you come in. Anyone who is interested can now download a screensaver off the SETI@Home Web site; the screensaver will download data from the SETI computers and use your computer’s down time to scan the info for alien leads and then upload the results. With 400,000 participants signed up thus far, the odds are increasingly favorable that if there is something out there to be heard, someone might just hear it. And, just possibly, the computer that finds that little green man could be yours.

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>