65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301
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E-mail: tps@planetary.org Web: http://planetary.org

Contact: Susan Lendroth

On May 17, 2000, SETI@home, co-sponsored by The Planetary Society and the
University of California, Berkeley, achieves two milestones: its first
anniversary and having just passed the 2 million participants mark. The
largest distributed computing experiment ever undertaken, this innovative
project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) uses a
computer program that analyzes scientific data while acting as a
screen-saver on personal computers.

Developed at the University of California, Berkeley, SETI@home went on-line
May 17, 1999 to wide acclaim and worldwide attention. For the first time,
ordinary citizens anywhere could actually participate in the search for
intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy. Within the first three months
alone, over 1 million inhabitants of Earth took up the challenge.

SETI@home harnesses the spare computing power of two million
Internet-connected personal computers around the world to crunch data from
the radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. To date, SETI@home is the
largest distributed computing experiment ever undertaken, and participants
have collectively logged 280 millennia worth of computing time.

“Although we knew SETI@home would fit exactly The Planetary Society’s
mission to involve the public in space exploration,” said Charlene
Anderson, Associate Director of the Society, “it took a leap of faith to
invest in the program because no one had ever before tried to create a
distributed computer network of such size, complexity and sophistication.
We are amazed and delighted with the results.”

The director of the SETI@home project is Dr. David Anderson, and its Chief
Scientist is Dan Werthimer, who leads UC Berkeley’s SERENDIP SETI program
as well. The project was conceived by computer scientist David Gedye, along
with Craig Kasnoff and astronomer Woody Sullivan.

The project’s start-up funding came from The Planetary Society. Other
sponsors include the University of California, Berkeley; Sun Microsystems;
Fujifilm Computer Products; Quantum Corp.; and Paramount Pictures provided
partial funding to The Planetary Society for this project.

As part of the one year anniversary celebration, SETI@home participants can
download a certificate of appreciation from The Planetary Society’s website
at http://planetary.org.

SETI@home was designed to tap into the enormous power of hundreds of
thousands of personal computers. Initial estimates for participation were
pegged at 200,000 to 300,000 people. Sign-ups proved to be 10 times that
number and are still rising, with an average of 2,000 new participants
joining each day. SETI@home users represent a wide sector of the public,
ranging in age from young students to retirees, and from professional
engineers to newcomers to the Internet.

There are even numerous user groups “competing” for the top spot in the
number of units of data processed. The top 100 groups include a virtual
who’s who listing of high tech companies as well as more unusual entries
such as tenth place holder, The Knights Who Say Ni!, whose top contributor
is Sir CADCAM of the Wooden Rabbit. Members of The Planetary Society can
join their own user group — over 1,100 strong — that currently resides in
12th place.

Will we ever discover an alien signal with SETI@home — who knows? The
search itself is proving a grand experiment in distributed computing. And
how many other screen-savers allow computer users the chance to change
human history by possibly discovering that we are not alone in our
universe. If a signal is found using the SETI@home program, the owner of
the computer that analyzes that vital data will merit a place in the
history books as one of the humans who opened the door to an incredible new
view of the cosmos.

SETI@home is one of six projects in the Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence supported by The Planetary Society — the world’s largest
space interest group, and longest running funder of SETI projects on Earth.

To sign-up or help with the search, participants should go to one of the
following two web sites: The Society’s at http://planetary.org or the
SETI@home site at http://setiathome.berkeley.edu.


For more information about SETI@home, contact Susan Lendroth by telephone
at (626)793-5100 ext 214 or by e-mail at tps.sl@planetary.org.

Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman founded the Society in 1980 to
advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for
extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members in more than 140 countries, the
Society is the largest space interest group in the world.

Contact David Anderson at (510)845-9854 or Dan Werthimer at (510)642-6997.