To date, more than 1.7 million people have participated in the largest computation in history. These scientists, students and PC hot-rodders aren't shooting for a Guinness world record, either. The aim of the SETI@home project is to discover life on other planets. Individuals volunteer to put idle Web-connected computers to work analyzing the gigabytes of raw data collected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The reward for joining this massive experiment? Prestige, mostly. And the possibility of being part of first contact. But can the same distributed-computing paradigm be used to turn a profit?
Absolutely, says Adam L. Beberg, a 26-year-old computer scientist. Beberg and a handful of colleagues are cranking away on Cosm, a set of software applications, programming tools and protocols to commercialize distributed computing. "I'm trying to build an infrastructure where a company could run our software and utilize 100 percent of their resources," Beberg explains.
This article was originally published with the title Power to the PC.