IBM Servers Now On The ET Hunt - InformationWeek

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IBM Servers Now On The ET Hunt

Now that Dana Scully on "The X-Files" is the one wanting tobelieve, IBM might as well join the search for life outside of our galaxy.

Starting this week, anyone with access to an I-Series server (formerly the AS/400) can program it to the University of California look for evidence of intelligence beyond Earth. The university's SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program uses radio telescopes to listen for nonrandom signals in space. In perhaps the largest ever example of distributed computing, PCs users worldwide have downloaded SETI software, which looks at small batches of captured signals for the ET equivalent of "howdy." The batches are then shipped back to SETI and more snippets are downloaded. Now IBM's I Series servers can join the hunt. An I-Series could process a snippet in four to five hours.

"All kinds of things, including Jupiter, make noise," says Larry Loen, an IBM I-Series senior programmer. Loen believes ET signals exist, but realizes he might not be the one to find life in another galaxy. "For now," he says, "customers can do something good with the down time on their computers."

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