Valley View Online

since 1996

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

Posted by admin on January - 29 - 2011 with 0 Comment  17,461 views
Yellow Submarine

Our world might be big, but we all live in a yellow submarine.

For the past year, I’ve been working for clean water and energy, helping to find a cure for muscular dystrophy and fighting childhood cancer. ┬áBut I’m not a hero, nor have I exerted much energy. I did it all from the comfort of my office. And all with just a spare computer.

At the Valley View Online World Headquarters, there are generally five or six computers running at any one time (your welcome, DP&L). One is running the phone system (skype server). Another manages the RSS feeds that gets sent to the two TiVos (tivo server). A couple of them are primary workstations. And then there is the iTunes server.

The lowly iTunes server, with barely enough horsepower to perform its main function, typically sits idle, consuming electricity and generating heat (which isn’t such a bad thing right now). But this little computer has a job more important that keeping the Shuffle charged, or music arranged.

While it’s sitting there doing nothing, it connects itself to the World Community Grid. The World Community Grid’s mission is to create the world’s largest public computing grid to tackle projects that benefit humanity.

Sponsored by IBM, the Grid currently has over 540,000 members, running 1,695,307 computers and has generated over 429,506 years of run time. It works like this. When idle, your computer will request data on a specific project from World Community Grid’s server. It will then perform computations on this data, send the results back to the server, and ask the server for a new piece of work. Each computation that your computer performs provides scientists with critical information that accelerates the pace of research!

The Grid is not the first project structured to re-capture unused and idle computing cycles. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has been in existence since 1999. SETI’s goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth (insert pun about starting on Earth first). But the parallel is the World Community Grid launched itself using the same platform as SETI, called BOINC.

BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) has a couple dozen projects of which SETI and the World Community Grid are just a small part. But the research, that spare computing cycles participate, is large in how it benefits the world’s population at large.

For example, in 2003, using grid computing, in less than three months scientists identified 44 potential treatments to fight the deadly smallpox disease. Without the grid, the work would have taken more than one year to complete. The World Community Grid is helping to change the World now.

So maybe you have an old computer that is still plugged in that you use on occasion. Or perhaps, the one you always use is sitting idle overnight or while you’re at work. Consider using that idle time for something that can change the World we live in today and will have an impact on the World your children and their children will live in tomorrow.

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