E.T., email home

Is anybody out there? If you’re one of the growing number of people who believe that we are not alone in this universe, you now have the chance to join in the search, from the comfort of your own home.

The folks at Berkeley University in California (where else, some would ask) have set up an interesting project that lets anyone join in the search for ET and his brethren. “SETI @home” (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) is a scientific experiment that is taking advantage of the collective power of hundreds of thousands of personal computers to process and analyze the vast amounts of data generated by radio telescopes scanning the heavens.

House-bound star gazers get involved by simply running a program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. As those managing the project point out, there’s a small but captivating possibility that your computer will be the first to detect evidence of a civilization beyond Earth. So far, there is no evidence of intelligent life (as visitors to the House of Commons often remark) but ET enthusiasts around the world are hard at work.

If you’re interested, visit the site listed below, where you can download simple program that will let you join the search. Whether or not the project ever discovers evidence of other life “out there”, the idea to break reams of data into smaller “chunks” for analysis by home users is truly brilliant, and yet another creative use of the computer and the powerful communication offered by the Internet.