- The University of California, Berkeley's SETI@home project,
scheduled to shut down next year, has a new lease on life
thanks to a large gift from The Planetary Society.
gift will allow the project, which harnesses millions of desktop
computers to search for intelligent signals from space, to
enhance its scope and increase its search capability to include
regions visible only from the southern hemisphere, said project
director David Anderson.
comes from The Planetary Society through a unique alliance
with Project Voyager, a media startup company founded by Sagan's
wife and long-time collaborator, Ann Druyan, and internet
entrepreneur Joe Firmage. The society was co-founded by the
late Carl Sagan and was the first organization to fund SETI@home.
will let millions of people keep participating in SETI@home,"
Anderson said. "The resources of Project Voyager and The Planetary
Society will let us take on exciting new project in the areas
of education and community-building."
for SETI@home was announced Aug. 8 by The Planetary Society
at the same time as an unprecedented new strategic alliance
between The Planetary Society and the project temporarily
named Project Voyager. Project Voyager is a media venture
led by Druyan of Carl Sagan Productions and Firmage of IntendChange.
Society's expanded role enables SETI@home to become bigger
and better, and continues two decades of society leadership
in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence," said Bruce
Murray, president of The Planetary Society. "The Society has
supported SETI continuously since 1980 with a dozen different
projects around the world."
had been scheduled to end in May 2001, but the increased funding
will ensure the program's continuation and extend its operations.
Already it is the most powerful computer on Earth, and its
progress to date is the largest computation ever done.
of linking computers in a global network to analyze radio
data from space originated with David Gedye, a UC Berkeley
computer science graduate and a former student of Anderson,
along with Craig Kasnoff and astronomer Woody Sullivan. Four
years ago, with $100,000 from The Planetary Society, in cooperation
with Paramount Pictures, Anderson and his colleagues at UC
Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory began developing the
software for the distributed computer project.
first got a crack at the software in May of 1999, and, since
then, 2.2 million people have signed up and downloaded the
software. The data they analyze comes from a radio telescope
at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which scans the sky daily and sends
the radio data back to UC Berkeley. There, it is broken up
into chunks and delivered to home computers for analysis.
SETI@home chief scientist Dan Werthimer and his UC Berkeley
colleagues operate the 22-year-old Arecibo project, called
SERENDIP (Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from
Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations).
next couple of years, Anderson and Werthimer hope to analyze
radio data from a telescope in the southern hemisphere, complementing
the northern hemisphere data from Arecibo.
funders for SETI@home have been Sun Microsystems, which donated
computing equipment, and the University of California, which
provided matching funds of $300,000 from its Digital Media
Innovation Program. Additional sponsors include Quantum Corp.,
Fuji Film Computer Products, Informix and The SETI Institute.
Voyager will help fund the society's programs, The Planetary
Society will provide cutting-edge science content to Project
Voyager's Web site. The Society and Project Voyager also plan
to develop innovative educational material about the project,
SETI in general, and the new field of astrobiology.
UC Berkeley's search for extraterrestrial life, celebrates
first anniversary, is named finalist in Computerworld Smithsonian
than a million people world-wide have signed up with UC Berkeley's
SETI@home to search for intelligent life in the universe