Pirates@Home is just a test of BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Our current goal is to test and possibly modify the BOINC forum code for use by an unrelated (to BOINC, anyway) project called Interactions in Understanding the Universe (I2U2). We welcome anybody who wants to help out with this project, either by running workunits (when there are any) or trying out the forum and server software. In any case, it is important that you always keep in mind that we are not actually doing any production computing for that or any other scientific project. (At least not yet.)
Pirates@Home was previously used to develop both experience and software (including a nifty screensaver) leading to the creation of Einstein@Home, which is currently searching for evidence of gravitational waves. We hope you'll join the search. See below for more information about Einstein@Home.
The overall goal of Interactions in Understanding the Universe is to support and strengthen the education and outreach activities of Grid-based scientific experiments that utilize federated resources at U.S. labs and universities. This year a group of scientists, computer scientists and educators are committed to building a rich portfolio of coherent, online collaborative labs and to planning an Education Virtual Organization to support participants and developers long-term across projects.
I2U2 will develop and maintain a virtual portfolio of laboratories ("e-Labs" and "i-Labs") for a diverse range of audiences, and will provide tools and support services to assist developers in creating these educational resources. These laboratories break new ground by using the Grid for education in the same way that science uses the Grid.
I2U2 is initially a collaboration between the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Fermilab & QuarkNet, the ATLAS, CMS and MARIACHI experiments, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), the University of Chicago, and the University of Houston.
One potential component of the I2U2 web portal is a set of on-line discussion rooms, similar to the discussion forums provided by BOINC based projects like SETI@Home and Einstein@Home. We will be using Pirates@Home to test the idea that we can 'port' the BOINC forum code to I2U2 without too much effort. The final result may be a layer of additional code to support additional I2U2 functionality, or we may treat this as a prototype and then start over and write our own code. We don't know the right answer yet, which is why it's called 'research'.
This is only a small part of the overall I2U2 effort for LIGO. We also intend to develop e-Labs and supporting software tools that will allow high school students and their teachers to make use of the wealth of data collected by LIGO's environmental monitors, which include seismometers, tiltmeters, magnetometers, and weather stations. Students will be able to learn about science by actually participating in investigative projects, and there is a real potential to make a contribution to LIGO's search for gravitational waves by adding to our understanding of the sources of background noise.
The goal of Einstein@Home is to use distributed public computing (based on BOINC) to provide the computational power needed to conduct an all-sky blind search for gravitational radiation using data from the LIGO and GEO 600 gravitational wave detectors.
Einstein@Home opened to the public in February 2005, and has already completed a search through the data collected during LIGO's third science run (S3). It is now working on S4 data. In November 2005 LIGO began a year long data run (S5). There will be lots of workunits to crunch in the future, and we hope you will consider contributing your spare cycles to the effort. (There's lots more work to crunch there than there is here!)
To find our more about Einstein@Home and LIGO and to contribute your computer's resources please visit the home page here.
To start participating in Pirates@Home you should first read the getting started page.
A large number of BOINC-based projects have sprung up in the past year. An up-to-date list can be found here.
A list of other current and planned projects using distributed computing of all sorts can be found on the DistributedComputing.info page.