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About ... > Information about SETI@Home

SETI@home (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence at home) is a distributed-computing project of the University of California in Berkeley, which deals with the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. It is looking for narrow-band radio signals from space, since it is assumed that these signals are not of natural origin. The discovery of such a signal would indicate the possible existence of extraterrestrial technology.

Unlike other SETI projects SETI@home is a very inexpensive project. In conventional SETI projects promising sections of the sky can be selectively searched for radio signals from aliens. SETI@home instead equipped the radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory, which is used for astronomical observations, with an additional receiver and will record radio signals while the telescope is making other scientific observations. SETI@home therefore receives a large amount of radio data, without taking up its own telescope time. To evaluate the vast amounts of data, only little own hardware is required. The computational burden is instead outsourced to the SETI@home computers in the global community.

Since 1999 the participating computers provided more than 2,3 million years of computation time. During this time, more than 1,84 billion results from more than 5,4 million users have been received. SETI@home thus has become a model for other projects in medical and scientific fields, such as Folding@home or the Cancer Research Project.

Seti@home runs mainly three test with the data:

  • search for Gaussian rises and falls of the transmission power, which potentially indicates a radio source
  • search for pulses that could be a narrowband digital-style transmission
  • search for triples, three pulses in a row

On 22th of June 2004 SETI@home switched to the new BOINC platform. From the SETI@home BOINC team developed, it represents a general platform for various applications for distributed computing. With the conversion a base was created to expand the SETI@home project in a flexibel way. The old "classic" client, for example, was limited to only being able to analyze data with 2-bit sampling rate from the recording device at the Arecibo telescope. For the future it is planned to also evaluate data with better resolution and the Parkes telescope in the southern hemisphere in Australia. This future project is named SETI@home II. The BOINC client can relatively easily be extended to new search
algorithms and data formats by automatically recharging a new version from the SETI@home server.

More detailed information about Seti@home, operation and analysis can be found in our Wiki (german only):


The homepage of Seti@home can be found here: