Map The Galaxy In Your Spare Time (Hey, Its Better Than Tweeting)

by Gabrielle DeMarco on February 15, 2010

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

What is faster than the world’s second fastest supercomputer and can unlock secrets of the universe? Give up?

Your laptop! Well, your laptop and about 17,000 of its friends.

Sign up your computer to join in on the Rensselaer project that is literally sweeping across the galaxy. Called MilkyWay@Home, the computer program has home PCs each prosessing small amounts of data from the massive Sloan Digital Sky Survey on the the shape, mass, and distribution of stars and mysterious dark matter in our Milky Way galaxy. Together, these individual computers have amassed a computing power that could soon rival the world’s fastest-ever supercomputer. All this from what started as a small interdisciplinary research project, about $5,000, and few very ambitious RPI faculty and graduate students.

CCNI might be revolutionizing computational power and discovery at Rensselaer, but MilkyWay@Home is proving just how powerful individual citizens can be in the furtherance of important scientific discovery.

To learn much more about MilkyWay@Home, check out my recent story on the quadrillion (thousand trillion) FLOP project here.