Skip to comments.Home PCS may prove point for Einstein
Posted on 02/23/2005 6:31:04 PM PST by tang-soo
HOME PCS MAY PROVE POINT FOR EINSTEIN
Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2005
By Mike Lafferty
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
WASHINGTON -- Want to help Albert Einstein? Turn on your computer.
Physicists have announced a plan to marshal hundreds of thousands of computers to confirm one of the great physicist's predictions: Gravity waves exist in the universe.
Einstein, who predicted in 1916 that these ripples exist in the fabric of space and time, never thought his theory could be proved.
Now, in the centennial year of one of his two theories of relativity, scientists think they have the equipment to detect these waves created by fallout from supernovae explosions and the collisions of black holes.
What they need is old-fashioned, brute-force, number-crunching power.
By donating our unused computer time, scientists would have a huge network of computers sifting for Einstein's gravity waves in the flood of data culled from the heavens.
Called Einstein@Home, the plan was kicked off at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The idea is similar to SETI@home, the network of 500,000 home and office computers pooled together by scientists searching for intelligent life in the universe.
Einstein@Home was developed at the University of Wisconsin and already has 7,000 computers in its network. These volunteer machines boosted number-crunching power by four times, according to Barry Barish, of the California Institute of Technology.
"A $595 RadioShack computer is more power than anything we had seven years ago,'' said Barish, who directs the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, a wave-detecting instrument built at Hanford, Wash.
Once you log onto Einstein@Home, your computer will download data from the interferometer and a British-German instrument, called GEO600.
When it's connected, your computer will display a star-map screensaver that shows the part of the sky where your data came from.
"We will take every piece of the sky and (compute the same data) on at least three PCs,'' Barish said.
The waves are thought to be incredibly small -- a decimal point followed by 18 zeros. By comparison, the diameter of an atom is a decimal point followed by a mere 10 zeros.
"Einstein knew how small the numbers were and couldn't imagine the technology would develop to a point where it would be technically feasible,'' said Gary Steigman, a theoretical physicist at Ohio State University.
The farther the waves travel, the weaker they are. That's why the instruments will be trained on huge explosions and other cosmic violence.
The waves have been inferred indirectly from data from pulsars, celestial objects that are incrementally losing mass at a rate consistent with the loss of mass through gravity waves.
However, Steigman doesn't think gravity waves will be confirmed until the next generation of wave detectors comes along, in about a decade.
"The point is to demonstrate the feasibility,'' he said.
Confirming gravity waves could allow scientists to demonstrate the existence of black holes, reveal data on supernovae and neutron stars, and provide information about the origin and fate of the universe.
And it would help prove Einstein's theory.
"We all believe he's right,'' Steigman said.
Einstein@Home lets you donate your computer to researchers when you're not using it.
How it works:
Your PC gets a list of instructions from the project's scheduling server.
Files are downloaded from the project's data server. New versions of applications are downloaded automatically.
Your computer runs the application programs, producing output files, and transmits these files to the data server.
The results are reported to the scheduling server, and your computer gets instructions for more work. The cycle is repeated indefinitely.
This is all done automatically as you eat, sleep or are at work.
[A $595 RadioShack computer is more power than anything we had seven years ago]
And if you use a different brand, it's even more powerful than that!
Ride the wave?
So...the number .000 000 000 000 000 000 is a whole lot less than .000 000 000 0, eh?
Shouldn't let fashion reporters write tech articles.
This is really cool, I also heard about one a few years ago where scientists were going to do this exact thing but with cancer research. Anyone know is that is going on yet? If so, could you provide a link?
Yeah, RIGHT! These geeks are just trying to get into Guiness as the biggest Half Life 2 LAN party ever!
No need for this really. I fell down the other day. Them old gravity waves took over when I lost my balance on the ladder. Einstein rules! He's da' man.
A distributed processing system of 500,000 units @ 150 megaflops each (conservative estimate)...
In his book The Enchanted Loom (1983) astrophysicist Robert Jastrow speculated that the free exchange of information in a structured way by about 100 billion nodes or switches would simulate what we know, through the human brain, as consciousness. He suggested that distributed computing might be a step in this direction.
It all depends on where you place the one, does it not?
Unless it`s run by Microsoft XP in which case 99.9999999% of its time will be spent downloading updates from the internet.
"Hey Mom, what`s one plus one?"
"Use the computer honey"
"I did last week and it still has the spinning hourglass on it"
Ah, but there IS no "1" in this description. That was my point.
Go to the site grid.org and you can become part of this project.
I have been doing this for about 2 years, for a total of 111 days of CPU time (I only have my computer on 2 to 4 hours a day). You don't notice any difference in the performance of the machine.
Unless you use a hyperthreaded box, the software can't tell it's nopt two processors.
Don't buy this bullsh*t, man! This is just another plot by Karl Rove and BushCo. to look at your porn stash and gather evidence for the upcoming show trials of Amerikan dissidents!
Not to mention what unit you use. Inches? Meters? Liters? Hertz? Joules? None is mentioned; the other poster is right about fashion reporters writing tech articles. If the unit involved is light years, we're talking about some pretty decent-sized waves; that is unless the number really is nothing but a variable number of zeroes after a "pointless" decimal point. I guess zero light years is no larger a measurement than zero millimeters (or zero kilograms, for that matter).
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
Author: Albert Einstein
Pretty cool, huh?
I had folding@home and SETI@home running on my Linux Beowulf cluster for a while until I shut it down. I couldn't deal with the $150 per month power bills. That didn't have anything to do with SETI or folding, it had to do with eight Pentium-II and Pentium-III class machines running 24/7. I had a little over one year of CPU time on SETI and I had finished 35 work units on folding. I may have to fire up the cluster again and run some Einstein@home for a while.
wow. I wonder if the answer could aid space travel??
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