Distributed computing programs are designed to allocate chunks of processing to many computers throughout the world in order to complete computations that would otherwise take an extremely long time, even on a supercomputer.
Known distributed computing projects include:
- Folding@Home (Protein Folding)
- Einstein@Home (Gravity Waves)
- SETI@Home (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
- PrimeNet (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search)
I am considering starting Academy teams on these sites, just for kicks, to see how much processing the Academy can dole out for the sake of science. If there is enough interest (i.e. 4 people), in any of these projects, I will start an Academy team and post the team numbers here.
There are more of these projects out there, so if you've got your own preferred project, add it to the list. Here is a list of active projects, so if you find one you want us to get in on, add it.
Folding@Home is a Stanford run project that computes protein folding. While you may know that proteins have specific amino acid sequences, part of their functionality comes from the shape that results when the protein folds on itself, and Folding@Home is working to understand how proteins take these shapes.
The client can be found here. For Linux users, simply
chmod +x the program and run it, and it'll get going on its own. I would suggest giving it its own folder, so you don't accidentally delete something important.
The Academy team number is 41760. Enter this as you set up your client for the first time.
To run Einstein@Home, you need to sign up, and then download the software. The software will run CPU benchmarks, and then sit there. Windows users will need to go to Settings -> Attach to Project, and enter http://einstein.phys.uwm.edu/ and the horrible string of alphanumerics that you receive when signing up.
Download the client here, and make sure to read the instructions (for I have not).
The goal of PrimeNet is to find as many Mersenne primes (primes that fit the description 2p-1 where p ∈ PRIMES) as they can. In May 2004, the 41st Mersenne was found (224,036,583-1, which is around 7 million digits long). As I write this, the PrimeNet grid is doing about 15005 gigaflops, which is absolutely nuts even if you don't know what flops (floating point operations per second) are.
You can get the software here. This is not a project in which you can work in teams, but neat nonetheless.
This is a particularly geeky distributed computing site that seems to be largely into mathematical and computational problems, such as encryption stress-testing and finding rulers such that no two marks are the same distance apart as any other pair of two marks.
Clients can be found here.