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SETI@home is a scientific experiment that will harness the power of hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a screensaver program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. There's a small but captivating possibility that your computer will detect the faint murmur of a civilization beyond Earth.

SETI@home is scheduled to start in April 1999. To join our mailing list, please enter your full email address and . We will notify you when the free SETI@home software is available for downloading. Versions for the PC, Mac and Unix will be available.
Sponsors and technology partners of SETI@home include The Planetary Society, Paramount Pictures, Sun Microsystems, Fuji Film Computer Products, Informix, and Engineering Design Team, Inc.. SETI@home is also supported by by private donations. It is based at the University of California at Berkeley. Learn about other UC Berkeley SETI projects.

  The Project

  Plans and Current Status  How you can help

  What is SETI@home?

The SETI@home program is a special kind of screensaver. Like other screensavers it starts up when you leave your computer unattended, and it shuts down as soon as you return to work. What it does in the interim is unique. While you are getting coffee, or having lunch or sleeping, your computer will be helping the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by analyzing data specially captured by the world's largest radio telescope.

SETI@home will be accompanied by a Web site showing the current status of the search, providing various educational material and links on SETI, astrobiology, and astronomy, and hosting the download of the client software.

  SETI Background

Current SETI research consists primarily of radio astronomers searching for narrow-bandwidth radio signals (radio waves are able to penetrate interstellar dust clouds, and narrow-bandwidth signals are not found in nature). There are a handful of such projects. Some are focusing on particular nearby stars, others are scanning star-dense parts of the sky. The SETI Institute 's Project Phoenix is the best known of these projects.

All existing SETI projects use custom signal processing hardware, listening to the real-time telescope output on millions of frequency channels simultaneously. This analysis, though impressive, only skims the surface of what is possible. Because real-time searches can only check a small number of bandwidths, frequency drift rates and pulse periodicities, it makes sense to consider a new kind of search -- one that analyses a smaller part of the frequency spectrum in a much more thorough way. This is the mission of SETI@home.

  The Science Behind SETI@home

SETI@home is real science. The data is from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world. By the time 50,000 PCs are involved, the scope of the search will rival all current SETI projects. SETI@home may indeed detect a signal that would otherwise be missed.

The project has three major components:

A data-flow diagram illustrates the entire process.

  Project Plan

A history and future schedule of SETI@home:

1996: David Gedye conceived the idea for SETI@home and formed the initial project team. A scientific plan was developed that received widespread academic support at the 5th International Conference in Bioastronomy in July 1996.

1997: The signal analysis code and prototypes of the client and server software were developed.

1998: Most of this year has been devoted to fundraising. In 9/98 we began working on the data recording system and on the final version of the client software. In 11/98 we plan to begin recording data and to begin testing the client software.

1999: From 1/99 through 3/99 we will test and debug the client software, develop the final version of the server software, and prepare the web site for launch. The launch is scheduled for 4/99.

2000-2001: To survey as much of the sky as possible, the experiment will run for two years. The web site will be updated regularly with progress reports, and explanations of the results found so far.


The members of the SETI@home team are:

The SETI@home advisory panel includes:

and the following members of The SETI Institute:


October 7 1998. We have received some funding commitments (announcements forthcoming). We have begun development of the data recorder and the data-handling software, and are continuing development of the client software.

July 30 1998. Several dozen volunteer programmers have contributed to the development of the client program, and volunteers from around the world have translated the web page into several languages. Engineering Design Team Inc. (EDT) has donated analog-to-digital interfaces for the data collection system.

We continue to seek the funding that we need to complete the science-only version of the system. We have some good possibilities, but nothing definite so far. Because of this, the schedule for the science-only version has slipped at least a couple of months.

June 10 1998. The UC Berkeley SETI program received the Smithsonian Institute medal for first place in 1998 science and technology innovation. More....

June 1998. Sun Microsystems has agreed to make a donation of computer hardware to SETI@home. This donation is of major importance, as the computers will form the backbone of our data recording and distribution systems.

May 1998. The Center for Electronic Art in San Francisco is running a workshop to design an enhanced Web site and other graphical elements for SETI@home.

March 1998. The Planetary Society has offered its support to the project as a co-sponsor, and will be assisting us in recruiting other sponsors.

September 1997. More than 35,000 people have joined the SETI@home mailing list, many after seeing Dan Werthimer discuss the project on the Discovery Channel. Also during September -- the first magnetic tape of test data from Arecibo was returned to Berkeley. This will be used to test the analysis algorithms, and get an initial sense of the terrestrial interference characteristics.

August 1997. Dan Werthimer was interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered. Other stories this month included one by PC World. The SETI@home mailing list grew to 10,000 people. Senior members of the SETI Institute accepted invitations to sit on our advisory board.

June 1997. The SETI@home web site was established, and David Gedye was interviewed by the New York Times.

  Sponsors and Acknowledgements

If you'd like to become one of the project's Founding Supporters, please click here. Donations are fully tax deductible.

The SETI@home project is seeking promotional partners and corporate sponsors. If you represent an organization with the resources and motivation to help us make SETI@home a reality, please send email .

Sponsors and technology partners of SETI@home include:

The Planetary Society
The Planetary Society
Sun Microsystems
Sun Microsystems
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Fuji Film Computer Products
Fuji Film Computer Products
Engineering Design Team, Inc.
The Friends of SETI@home
(people like you) !
Donate !

The client analysis code was designed by Dan Werthimer, Mike Lampton, Charles Donnelly and Jeff Cobb, and was implemented by Jeff Cobb. Other contributing programmers include David Anderson, James F. Causey, Ragnar Hojland Espinosa, Kelly French, Kyle Granger, Eric Korpela, Matt Lebofsky, Michael Pfeiffer, Brian Pike, Stein M. Sandbech, Ted Wright, and Steffen Zahn.

Many thanks to Craig Kassnoff, who participated in the project's formative discussions and made key introductions. Thanks also to Starwave, who sponsored the scientific feasibility study. Ralph Derrickson has supported the project from its inception, and given much needed business advice.