Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

back to overview

July 2000

Out of This World

Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Someday, when scientists confirm the existence of life on other planets, you may be able to say the proof was established by your home computer. The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program, created at the University of California at Berkley, offers PC and Mac users a chance to get in on radio wave analysis. From 1996 to March 1999, organizers developed a downloadable screensaver that provides users with 340kb packages of data collected from the world’s largest radio telescope, at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. As researchers could neither afford nor build a computer large enough to analyze the copious data, the idea of using thousands of PCs was born. Though project heads expected approximately 100,000 “helpers” in the first year, the unique experiment has attracted more than two million alien seekers worldwide. Data can be downloaded at Once the screensaver is activated, information will appear in the form of a colorful graph, which calculates 107 seconds of sound data. The process takes, depending on computer speed, between 10 and 50 hours to complete, at which point Setiathome retrieves the finished file and sends a new one. The project’s fascinating Website explains the various tests you will see taking place on your screen. In temporarily lending the experts your monitor, you’ll support the motto of many scientists as well as that of TV’s The X-Files — the truth is out there. <<<

tell a friend