Alien hunt signs up 3 millionth volunteer

The Associated Press
Thursday May 17, 2001

PASADENA — A two-year-old project that harnesses spare computer time to hunt for signals from alien civilizations has signed up its 3 millionth volunteer, officials said Wednesday. 

The SETI(at)home project uses idle computers scattered among 226 countries to scan signals collected by the world’s largest radio telescope for traces of transmissions from extraterrestrials. 

Bernd Ziegler, a German physicist who first learned of the project a month ago, became on May 7 the 3 millionth person to download the free software used to crunch the radio data. 

“Is this a hoax?” he wrote in response to an e-mail telling him of the honor. 

So far, users of the program have contributed the equivalent of 664,000 years of donated computing time to the project, which has yet to find conclusive evidence of an alien transmission. About 550,000 computer users regularly participate. 

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project, run out of the University of California, Berkeley, is co-sponsored by the Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios. 

Ziegler will receive a lifetime membership to the Planetary Society, a copy of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS series on DVD and a SETI poster signed by the project’s chief scientist and project director. 


On the Net: http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/