UC Berkeley project that crowdsourced search for alien life will end after 21 years; scientists to study results

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An image of a globular cluster of stars by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA)

An image of a globular cluster of stars by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA)

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Scientists at the University of California Berkeley’s SETI@home project say they’ll stop sending new work to the network of volunteers, who’ve been using their computers to search for aliens since 1999.

The project is going into hibernation on March 31, according to a post on its website, which said scientists have reached a point of diminishing returns.

“Basically, we’ve analyzed all the data we need for now,” according to the post.

The scientists will now focus on studying the results they’ve brought in and writing a scientific journal paper on the findings.

Millions of volunteers around the world have downloaded the SETI@home screen saver over the years, to help analyze radio telescope data and search for extraterrestrial intelligence, according to the group. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Scientists are looking for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space that are not known to exist in nature.

It requires huge amounts of computing power, so the program broke the data that into chunks that an ordinary PC could handle. Since it was a screen saver, it runs when volunteers are not actively using their machines.

It created a huge, virtual supercomputer, the group said.

“We hope that other UC Berkeley astronomers will find uses for the huge computing capabilities of SETI@home for SETI or related areas like cosmology and pulsar research,” the post said.

The group thanked volunteers for their 20 years of help and said the SETI@home website and message boards would continue to operate.

The post did not say if they have found any alien life.

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