SETI@Home is a "screensaver" that runs when your computer is not doing anything else. It works by grabbing 0.25MB of data from the SETI@Home site in Berkeley, California. This consists of data received from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Pico as part of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) project.
When the screensaver kicks in, the special software begins to sift through the data looking for 'artifical' signals. If it finds anything, the SETI@Home team are notified. Each chunk of data sent out is logged; if your computer happens to discover a signal from an alien civilisation, you can be sure your name will be rather famous ;-)
The software is available for Mac, PC and various Unix platforms. There's no need to keep your computer connected to the net all the time, either. Even if you only sporadically dial up by modem this is enough to get some data to work on in the mean time. With an average modem, a chunk of data should only take a few minutes to receive. Analysis of this data would then take about two days if the software runs all the time, or maybe a week or two if it runs intermittently. The user has the option of letting the software run as a screen saver, where other programs can interrupt it, or as a dedicated task which takes up more CPU and memory.
The official site for downloading the software is at http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ and the SETI@Home project would prefer that all downloads come from that site. Since their server has been extremely busy of late, however, we have chosen to mirror the main versions (PC and Mac) here, in the downloads section of this site. Due to the large number of Unix versions, these must be downloaded directly.
Firstly you must download the software appropriate for your computer and register this with the SETI@Home server. This is done simply by following the installation procedure for the software - you will be prompted for a user name and password by which you will be identified.
Once you have done this, you can register by clicking here.
To find out how the UK-SEDS SETI team are doing, click here.
If you have any questions or problems setting up your SETI@Home software or joining the UK-SEDS SETI Team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.