Saturday, August 14, 2010

So I'll give it a try...

I decided I couldn't be overly critical of something I've never tried.
So I downloaded SETI@Home.  For those of you who don't know, this is a cooperative software application that takes raw data from radio telescopes and uses over 3 million volunteered home computers to sift through the noise, searching for a signal from an alien civilization.
Those of you who have read my previous SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) posts know that I find the effort in all of its current incarnations to be rather pointless.   For one thing, only a very minor section of the sky can be scanned.  In fact, I've heard it compared to scooping water from the ocean into a glass, then analyzing the cupful asking, "any aliens out there?  Anyone?  Anyone?"  Secondly, they're scanning for radio transmissions.  It's very difficult for me to fathom an advanced civilization using radio waves as a means of communication. 
That said, I thought I'd give SETI@Home a try just to see what it's all about.  So I created an account there, downloaded their software app from BOINC (great name, eh?), and installed it.  I'm a little unnerved at all of the warnings, disclaimers, and denials of liability that I was issued at the onset, but like the brave (or stupid) soul that I am, I pressed forward.  The app is set to go, ready to scan the heavens while I sleep and when my Mac is not in use...unless I have insomnia.  It remains to be seen if this app will slow my system or cause any other unforeseen software/hardware conflicts, but as they say in Kenya: safari so good.
As a SETI@Home user, I'm allowed to post my own user profile.  According to the site admin, I have not "earned" my right to do so as I have yet to contribute a full scan.  I'll get to it eventually and when I do, you can bet I am going to post all of my heretical views on waiting for radio waves and on SETI in general.  I can't wait for the online flame wars I will likely become ensconced in.
But I look at this way: on the off chance that I discover a transmission from an alien source, Strange Horizons will finally make the news.  That's about as perfect a platform as any new author can hope to have when it comes to publishing.  I mean, you can't buy that kind of publicity.  And who wouldn't want me as an ambassador for the Earth?  Huh?  Huh?  You know you want it.
Aw, who am I kidding?  I'll be lucky if a black helicopter doesn't land on my lawn and spirit me away to where I can't do the human race any harm.  Come to think of it, that might happen anyway.  SETI or not.

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