Have a computer? Want to help astronomers make awesome discoveries and understand our Universe? theSkyNet needs you!
Your computer is bored. It has spare processing power nearly all of the time that could be used to do something cool. So why not let it?
The Science Bit
By connecting 100s and 1000s of computers together through the Internet, it’s possible to simulate a single machine capable of doing some pretty amazing stuff.
theSkyNet is a community computing project dedicated to radio astronomy. Radio astronomers use radio telescopes (of course) to observe the Universe at radio wavelengths (still with me?). All day, every day, signals from distant galaxies, stars and other cosmic bits and pieces arrive at the Earth in the form of radio waves. Once detected by a radio telescope the signal is processed by computers and used by scientists to support a theory or inspire a new one.
The Computer Bit
When you join theSkyNet your computer will help radio astronomers process information and answer some of the big questions we have about the Universe.
As a part of theSkyNet community your computer will be called upon to process small packets of data, but you wont even notice it’s going on. The key to theSkyNet is to have lots of computers connected, with each doing only a little, but it all adding up to a lot.
At the heart of theSkyNet is this website, theSkyNet.org where you’ll find alliances you’ve joined stack up against others. The more data you and your alliances process, the more status you’ll have within theSkyNet community.
But that’s not it, because as theSkyNet project evolves we’ll be adding more features for you to explore. In the pipeline we have visualisation tools to help you understand the data you’re processing and even an opportunity to help identify and catalogue radio wave sources.
The Guts of theSkyNet
theSkyNet is powered by some clever software called Nereus. Data collected by one of several radio telescopes is sent to your computer as a small data packet ready for processing by the Nereus client. Once processing of the data packet has taken place it is sent back and the process begins all over again. By repeating this process across thousands of computers, it is possible to simulate a single powerful machine capable of doing real and relevant scientific research.
Continue reading: Why should I join?