I’ve talked Citizen Science projects in a couple of previous blog posts, here and here. That’s great for those who have time on their hands to participate, but what if your idle time is limited? That’s where projects like Einstein@Home come in; they don’t require your idle time, but rather, your computer’s idle time. This is a great choice for those of us who want to make a contribution to scientific research and discovery, but lack the free time it takes to do it.
Einstein@Home puts your computer to work when you’re not using it, to search for weak electromagnetic signals emitted by pulsars (spinning neutron stars), using data from several sources. To date, volunteers have discovered about fifty new neutron stars, and are expected to discover many more. The long term goal is to detect gravitational-wave emission from pulsars.
To participate, you need to sign up for an account at the Einstein@home website, then download the necessary software your computer will run to crunch the data that will be supplied.
This is just one of many projects in which you lend your computer’s idle time to reduce data and crunch the numbers. Check out the links below for lists of projects to get involved in, and put your computer’s down time to good use!
M. Colleen Gino, MRO Assistant Director of Outreach and Communications