For each project, donors volunteer computing time from personal computers to a specific cause. This donated computing power comes typically from CPUs and GPUs. Folding@home once also harnessed the power of PlayStation 3s. Each project seeks to solve a problem which is difficult or infeasible to tackle using other methods.
There are two ways of doing this. While distributed computing functions by dividing a complex problem among diverse and independent computer systems and then combine the result, grid computing works by utilizing a network of large pools of high-powered computing resources. These are typically “umbrella” projects that have a number of sub-projects underneath them, with multiple research areas.
This list consists of the distributed projects because they are a bit plentiful. You can use the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, or Android) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research. It’s safe, secure, and easy. Once you feel like it, the next steps would be to, choose projects, download BOINC software, enter an email address and password, and you are good to go.
The following projects may sound complicated, but that is exactly why we need your computers in the network.
1. BURP – Rendering of 3D animations
The idea of BURP is to use spare CPU cycles on participating computers around the world to render 3D images and animations submitted by the users of the BURP network – in other words to build a large shared render farm that can be freely used by those who also contribute computing power to it. The potential processing power of a system like this is enormous—theoretically the rendering speed would only be limited by available network bandwidth.
The fundamental goal of BURP is to give users access to computing power to render animations that would take an impossibly long time on a single computer. By dividing the work among hundreds of computers, an animation that takes possibly months to render in CPU time could be completed in only a few days. BURP hopes to make animations and images public as soon as they are finished so that all participants will be able to see the outcome.
2. ATLAS@HOME – run simulations of the ATLAS experiment at CERN
ATLAS is a particle physics experiment taking place at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, that searches for new particles and processes using head-on collisions of protons of extraordinary high energy. Petabytes of data were recorded, processed and analyzed during the first three years of data taking, leading to up to 300 publications covering all the aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics, including the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.
Large scale simulation campaigns are a key ingredient for physicists, who permanently compare their data with both “known” physics and “new” phenomena predicted by alternative models of the universe, particles and interactions. This simulation runs on the WLCG Computing Grid and at any one point there are around 150,000 tasks running. You can help them run even more simulation by using your computer’s idle time to run these same tasks.
3. Climate Prediction – Analyse ways to improve climate prediction models
Climateprediction.net (CPDN) is a distributed computing project to investigate and reduce uncertainties in climate modelling. It aims to do this by running hundreds of thousands of different models (a large climate ensemble) using the donated idle time of ordinary personal computers, thereby leading to a better understanding of how models are affected by small changes in the many parameters known to influence the global climate.
4. Study the Collatz conjecture, an unsolved conjecture in mathematics
The Collatz conjecture is a conjecture in mathematics named after Lothar Collatz, who first proposed it in 1937. The sequence of numbers involved is referred to as the hailstone sequence or hailstone numbers because the values are usually subject to multiple descents and ascents like hailstones in a cloud. The conjecture can be summarized as follows. Take any positive integer n. If n is even, divide it by 2 to get n / 2. If n is odd, multiply it by 3 and add 1 to obtain 3n + 1. Repeat the process (which has been called “Half Or Triple Plus One”, or HOTPO) indefinitely. The conjecture is that no matter what number you start with, you will always eventually reach 1. The project however, attempts to disprove the Collatz Conjecture.
5. Enigma@Home – Decode three unbroken Enigma messages from World War II
Enigma@Home is a wrapper between BOINC and Stefan Krah’s M4 Project. The M4 Project is an effort to break 3 original Enigma messages with the help of distributed computing. The signals were intercepted in the North Atlantic in 1942 and are believed to be unbroken.
6. POEM@Home – Molecular biology
POEM@HOME is a purely academic, non-profit project to improve our understanding of biomolecular structure and function. POEM@HOME implements a novel approach to understand these aspects of protein structure which lends itself very well to worldwide distributed computing. The scientific approach behind POEM@HOME is a computational realization of the thermodynamic hypothesis that won C. B. Anfinsen the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1972.
7. theSkyNet POGS – Astronomy
It involves analysis of radio astronomy data from telescopes such as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder and The Square Kilometre Array. They combine the spectral coverage of GALEX, Pan-STARRS1, and WISE to generate a multi-wavelength UV-optical-NIR galaxy atlas for the nearby Universe. And calculate physical parameters such as: star formation rate, stellar mass of the galaxy, dust attenuation, and total dust mass of a galaxy; on a pixel-by-pixel basis using spectral energy distribution fitting techniques.