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What I don't understand about SETI@Home

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posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 06:32 PM
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Why in the world do you need that much computing power to _find_ a signal? It would seem to me that this project is used to decode signals we already received. I can't imagine using a super computer to find a signal coming from space.




posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 08:09 PM
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OK think of it this way. Turn on your radio to get every radio station there is in the world at the same time, and then try and find one which has a dog barking in Chinese. That would be easy compared to what SETI is looking for.

What SETI is doing is listening to multiple wavelengths over broad areas of the sky, for long duration. They first have to break up the data into individual wavelengths out of many scanned all at once. They then break up the data into small packets and use various algorithms to analyze the data on multiple computers. They send out several copies to be analyzed to make sure there is no computer error. They also continue to gather more data. Since no one knows what Alien communication will be like, they try and look for organized data or repeated signals. Just trying to find meaningful data is difficult never mind the amount of data they have to process. They also have to rule out known Space based and Earth based signals. How long does it take you to download a music or video file? Well SETI is getting far more data per second for hours on end. We are talking about multiple millions of bits of data on an ongoing basis. Not something you would want to do on just one desktop computer alone.

[edit on 3-1-2007 by Terapin]





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