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SETI Wants Your Brainpower, For Aliens

Audience Participation

The SETI’s no stranger to crowd sourced solutions. For years, their SETI@home initiative has harnessed the downtime of millions of computers to sift through the data collected by Arecibo Observatory, searching for anomalous patterns in the radio waves from deep space to see if any of them look organized enough to have to have been created by a form of intelligence.

But their newest initiative, SETI Live, is too much for even the 769 teraFLOPS (as of 2009) combined processing power of SETI@home. Nope, SETI is asking you to lend your own cutting-edge-of-billions-of-years-of-evolutionary-honing pattern recognizer to their cause. You know, the one you keep between your ears and slightly behind your eyes.

That’s right. SETI is after your BRAAAAAIIIIINS.

Anyone can register on the new website, SETI Live, to help analyze data from SETI’s radio telescope devoted to scanning the heavens for signals from E.T…

“There are parts of the spectrum where our sophisticated signal processing system is overwhelmed because there are so many signals,” said astronomer Jill Tarter, director of the SETI Institute’s Center for SETI Research. “I’m hoping to put together this army of citizen scientists to help figure out which signals to follow up on…”

“You don’t do anything in SETI@Home; your computer does,” Tarter told “In this case, I want you actively involved and it has to be quick. You have to recognize patterns, mark patterns, try and remember if you’ve seen that pattern before. And you have to get it done within 90 seconds.”

Oh, so it’s FreeRice or for aliens, instead of world hunger and protein research? I can get behind that. Unlike SETI@home, SETI Live’s data comes from the organization’s array of Northern California radio dishes, which are all pointed at the increasing handful (yes, in the vastness of space, more than 700 can be described as “a handful”) of stars that we’ve recently discovered have planets orbiting them. “It could well be a long search,” Tarter said. “It’s a big cosmos out there.”

We all better get started, then!

(via Live Science.)

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