Why ask Why? -aka- Got any other suggestions?

Michael R. McClelland (drizzt@iaonline.com)
Tue, 24 Jun 1997 00:12:13 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Nelson Minar [SMTP:nelson@media.mit.edu]
Sent: Monday, June 23, 1997 10:45 PM
To: Michael R. McClelland
Cc: 'Lindgren Fredrik'; 'deschall@gatekeeper.megasoft.com'
Subject: RE: Big Science Needs Your Idle Cycles **SETI UPDATE**

>>The simple answer is that Java is only going to be used for the control
>>and visualization.

That's a reasonable compromise. It does require that everyone trust
For all I knew when I started running Deschall, it was run by the CIA.
the author of the SETI search code, though, and that the authors be
willing to port it to all the architectures around. Similar problems
we faced in deschall, I might add, and they weren't insurmountable.

>I'm keeping the rc5 running but when SETI launches, I'm there dude.

One question about the SETI thing - what reward do people get for
participating? I think one reason that deschall worked, at least for
me, was that it was *fun* to participate. I checked the stats every
day. I loved seeing the milestones, I liked the competition between
sites, I got a warm fuzzy feeling everytime I could turn an idle
machine over to it. All that because we had a measurable goal.
That should still be possible.
The SETI project doesn't have that. There's not much we're going to
see in progress and there's no guarantee that the haystack even has a
needle in it.
Reality doesn't come with guarantees.
Any ideas how they're addressing the question of interest?
Compounded Quarterly :)
The progress is supposed to be shown by gradually covering the entire sky
in all directions. I'd assume they would color code a map according to who
searched what.
I'd love to say my machine covered the Crab Nebula and found a
never-before-noticed peculiar radio signal, even if it's not ET. That is
the kind of thing that interests me. Maybe there isn't a needle in the
haystack but maybe there is something better than a needle.
(Another topic of discussion for a general mailing list on loosely
coordinated distributed computations. Hrm.)

PS - for another take on SETI type activities, read the novel "His
Master's Voice" for Stanislaw Lem. It addresses the question of
supposing we did find an alien signal, how would we understand it?
I'm a member of the Planetary Society [http://planetary.org/] and I've
never been very interested in SETI beyond thinking 'what if', but until now
there was no way for me to directly participate in the project besides
sending money. [http://planetary.org/hot-top-seti.html] Before I ran across
Deschall in a newsgroup I didn't even think about crypto, but the chance to
participate changed that. I think volunteerism is alive and well, as long
as greedy types don't take advantage of good will. I'd personally rather
get paid to work on this stuff but until then I just like to feel I'm doing
something useful with my otherwise idle PC.
I don't have a lot of hope for finding aliens but I do have hope that Big
Science will eventually get a really meaningful project.
The Lightning in a BrainStorm is caused by Eclectricity