Grid Computing: the easiest, cheapest form of charity there is

Posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 at 6:20 pm.

Grid computing is the practice of connecting many regular computers together over the internet to form a super computer, usually for the purpose of scientific research. Here are three reasons why you should do it:

1. It’s helpful. When you are not using your computer, it gets put to use for the good of mankind. You can take your pick of which cause you’d like to help, such as investigating cancer or AIDS or doing climate modeling, etc.

2. It’s easy. All you have to do is download and install a program (below). The program will take care of the rest. You’ll never have to do anything again.

3. It’s free. The program won’t cost you anything, and the extra electricity you’ll use will not cost you or the environment a thing unless it’s summer.  You’ll use up to a light-bulb’s worth of electricity, but since it becomes heat, your heater won’t have to heat your place as much and the net energy/dollars will be the same.

The program I have only activates after I’ve been idle for a half hour. If you want, there are others that can be set to use spare processing power even when you are using the computer (say you are using 5% of your computer’s resources to read your email, surf the web, talk on AIM, and listen to music – a good chunk of the other 95% would be used for research). Here’s some places where you can download grid computing programs:


* (the one I’m using at the moment)

2 comments to “Grid Computing: the easiest, cheapest form of charity there is”

  1. Comment by Kevin:

    Good plug. Some other examples I’m aware of are SETI at home (analyzing extraterrestrial radio waves) and Folding@Home, which is available for the PS3 as well.

    Folding@Home is pretty cool because it models protein folding (and mis-folding), which requires a shitton of computing power. It’s a project over at Stanford, by Vijay Pande.

  2. Comment by Patrick:

    20 bucks says this is how SkyNet takes over!

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