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Content about volunteer computing

July 27, 2011

Anyone - anywhere - can now donate their own computers to help theoretical physicists at CERN calculate what the huge experiments using the LHC should be looking for in their data, with a new project called Test4Theory as part of LHC@Home.

June 22, 2011

Javier de la Torre and his team at the Spanish company Vizzuality use crowdsourcing, cloud computing and vizualization to help preserve biodiversity.

April 27, 2011

Anyone can help contribute to early warning systems for earthquakes with only the use of a USB stick, a modern laptop, smart phone, or even a Nintendo Wii controller though a volunteer computing project called the Quake Catcher Network (QCN). The chief software architect of QCN, Carl Christensen, and project leader, Elizabeth Cochran, presented their volunteer computing project at the Asia@home Hackfest in Taipei in March 2011.

March 23, 2011

What’s in the logbook of an old battleship? A treasure trove of precise data the Old Weather project can use to help climate scientists understand how our climate has changed.

January 28, 2011

The upcoming ISGC 2011 (International Symposium on Grids and Clouds 2011) conference, in conjunction with OGF31 (Open Grid Forum), will be held in Taipei, Taiwan from 21 - 25 March 2011. Please visit here to register for this joint event. We welcome you to register before 28 February 2011 to enjoy the Early Bird rates!

December 1, 2010

While many of our readers were focusing on preparing for SuperComputing 2010, the World Community Grid celebrated its sixth birthday.

October 6, 2010


Link of the Week: Einstein@home bags a pulsar

Albert Einstein (c) Camera Press, K. of Ottawa

The Einstein@Home volunteer computing project, run on the BOINC platform to run distributed computing projects, usually   searches for gravity waves. (See previous iSGTW article.) However, a side project spotted a rare pulsar in radio observatory data.Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars; their rapid rotation causes the emission from the poles to sweep across the line-of-sight to the Earth, creating a periodic flash. Initially, most pulsars are energetic, rotating rapidly and emitting radiation in the X-ray region. But, over time, they “spin down;” many only emit at the frequency of radio waves.This summer, a person at a home computer spotted PSR J2007+2722, later confirmed by ground-based observatories.An article in the journal Science praised the efforts of citizen scientists, saying that “This result demonstrates the capability of 'consumer' comput

September 29, 2010

Video of the Week - A slice of the Citizen Cyberscience Summit

GridCast at CCS

Francois Grey
Catherine Gater
Becky Parker
Mark McAndrew
Hanny Van Arkel
Peter Amoako Yirenkyi

Earlier this month, citizens and scientists gathered for the London Citizen Cyberscience Summit. The event included content on a wide variety of topics, and the e-ScienceCast team (formerly known as GridCast) was there to see the action unfold. Watch interviews with a variety of attendees in this week's videos of the week.

September 8, 2010


Link of the Week: Live from the CCS

Image courtesy e-Science Talk

Last week, from 2 to 3 September, GridCast headed over to the Citizen Cyberscience Summit, held at Kings College London, to find out all the latest about volunteer computing.Their team of bloggers was on hand throughout the meeting to get the lowdown on the use of volunteer computing in everything from protein folding to searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Highlights include: 
• David Anderson, director of the SETI@home project, Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley;
• George Dyson, historian and philosopher of science and author of Darwin Among The Machines;
• Myles Allen, head of at Oxford University.But that’s not all! Take a look at more videos, photos and discussion from last week’s summit at the GridCast blog, especially François Grey’s thoughts on the event in this podcast.

August 25, 2010

Opinion - Scientists, meet the citizens

Screenshot from the Foldit online game for protein folding. Image courtesy Foldit

François Grey is the coordinator of the Citizen Cyberscience Center.
In a week’s time, an unusual meeting of minds will occur in London.
Billed as a Citizen Cyberscience Summit, it will bring together scientists from a range of distributed, volunteer computing and volunteer thinking projects, to mingle with some of the volunteers who participate in these online projects.
The upshot of the event, hosted by King’s College London on 2-3 September, should be a stimulating dialogue about how to make citizen cyberscience even more compelling for the public and even more useful to science.
The timing of the event could not be better. August saw a bumper crop of major scientific results from online science projects involving public participation. An article in Nature described progress made in protein folding using an online multiplayer game called

August 11, 2010


Link of the Week - A new twist on summer camp: computing classes in the wild

Image courtesy Carlos Jaime-Barrios Hernandez

We’ve all heard of summer camp.But SuperComputing Camp (or SSCAMP, as it is known by its acronym in Spanish) is a little different.
Starting on the 15th of August, 46 undergraduates and masters students will learn about high performance computing, grid computing, volunteer computing and cloud computing — while staying in a hacienda near Panachi National Wildlife Park, just outside the small town of Piedecuesta, Colombia.The organizer, Carlos Jaime-Barrios Hernandez, says the idea is for students to learn in a natural environment, where they can explore and enjoy the great outdoors while having access to fully up-to-date facilities, including digital resources, projectors and live-video feeds to keynote speeches and online lectures. They will remotely connect to the grid infrastructure via the web. Hernandez — a research scient

July 28, 2010

Announcement - Citizen CyberScience Summit, 2-3 September, London

Photo courtesy telegram sam, stock.exchng

Register now, to participate in the Citizen Cyberscience Summit, which will occur in London, England, on 2-3 September.
This a chance for scientists and citizens to learn about the latest breakthroughs in citizen cyberscience. It will be an opportunity to brainstorm about how new technologies can enhance citizen cyberscience. A goal of the summit is to draft a citizen cyberscience manifesto, involving all the stakeholders in the field.Who should come?
• Scientists, aspiring and established, amateur and professional, online or in the field.
• Citizens who care about the impact of science on society, and of society on science.Who is speaking?
Confirmed speakers include:
• David Anderson, director of the SETI@home project, Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley.
• George Dyson, historian and philosopher of science and author of Darwin Among The Machines.

July 7, 2010

Feature - Volunteer computing helps rescue oiled Gulf Coast wildlife

Map indicating position fo Deepwater Horizon oil spill as of June 8, and globally important bird areas considered most at risk. Image courtesy American Bird Conservancy. Click on image to enlarge.

iPhone users who come upon oiled birds and other wildlife in the Gulf Coast region can immediately transmit the location and a photo to animal rescue networks using a free new iPhone application called MoGO (Mobile Gulf Observatory). It was developed by four University of Massachusetts-Amherst researchers to make it easier for the public to help save wildlife exposed to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the UMass-Amherst researchers hope the MoGO app will draw on the large network of “citizen scientists” who are as heartbroken as they are to witness the disaster for marine life, and who are actively looking for ways to help save wildlife along

June 23, 2010

Feature - Cancer researchers speed crystallography

Scientists have trained a system to recognize the formation of 3-D protein crystals, automating a time-intensive, manual process necessary for scrutinizing the structure of cancer-related proteins.
Image courtesy of IBM and the World Community Grid.

Using the World Community Grid, scientists at the Help Conquer Cancer Project have found a way to automate and speed up protein crystallography, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Structural and Functional Genomics.
X-ray crystallography is the process of using x-rays to map the structure of crystals. Although biological molecules such as proteins and DNA are not normally crystalline in form, they can be prompted to form crystals through exposure to the right chemical compounds. Once crystallized, the scientists can use x-rays to map the protein; knowing the structure of a protein is invaluable to scientists who are trying to understand how a protein interacts with the human

March 3, 2010

Opinion - Volunteering for a better world: harnessing technology and willing citizens

Firefly in the daytime. Image courtesy Museum of Science, Boston.

By using the strengths of distributed computing technologies, both specialized researchers and citizens have the opportunity to participate in a new way of doing science.
We live in a time when nearly all information is available to nearly all people everywhere.
We are entering an age where all types of people can also contribute to many types of information. A school bus driver in rural Romania may be part of a biomedical research project. Or a banker in Los Angeles might moonlight as a collaborator in an astronomy project – classifying galaxies in her spare time.
This new movement in science, called “citizen science,” allows non-specialist volunteers to participate in global research. The projects are as diverse as backyard insect counts (the Firefly citizen science project), studies of how malaria develops and

February 24, 2010

Feature: Virtualization - Key for LHC physics volunteer computing

BOINC is versatile enough that even mobile phones can do volunteer computing. Image courtesy BOINC

In 2006, the team that built LHC@home was given a challenge by Wolfgang von Rueden, then IT Division Leader at CERN: look at the use of the volunteer computing project BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing)  for simulating events of interest in the Large Hadron Collider. It presented a demanding problem.
The software environments used by the experiments such as ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb are very large.
Furthermore, all LHC physics software development is done under Scientific Linux, whereas most volunteer PCs run under Windows. Porting the large and rapidly changing software is not practical, so another approach was needed.
The solution?
Marrying volunteer computing with the CernVM virtual image management system under development. It would enable the practical use of thousands of volunteer P

December 9, 2009

Feature - Observing oceans online Overview map of the NEPTUNE Canada observatory off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The network, which extends across the Juan de Fuca plate, will gather live data from a rich constellation of instruments deployed in a broad spectrum of undersea environments. This system will provide free Internet access to an immense wealth of data, both live and archived throughout the life of this planned 25-year project. Image courtesy NEPTUNE Canada. Although the Earth is mostly water, scientists know relatively little about the ocean floor. But with the creation of ocean observatories such as NEPTUNE Canada, all that could change. Until recently, scientists had to use cruise ships, satellites, and temporary probes to study the world’s oceans. This allowed them to take occasional snapshots of the ocean for later study. Ocean observatories are made up of more permanent installations of instruments directly on the ocean floor, along the co

September 2, 2009

Feature – Superlinks to identify genetic culprits

A graphic map of a particularly complex family tree. The squares represent males, while the circles represent females. Individuals affected by a genetic mutation are represented with red squares or circles. Yellow lines indicate a marriage between relatives. Image courtesy of Kwanghyuk (Danny) Lee, Baylor College of Medicine.

Once scientists know which mutation causes a disease, they can apply that knowledge in their search for a cure. Likewise, doctors can recommend lifestyle changes that will alter the course of the disease. But the computer analysis used to identify these mutations would take years to complete on a single computer.
Superlink-online, a distributed system developed at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, helps researchers perform their analyses in a matter of days by distributing the computations over thousands of computers worldwide. Geneticists submit their data through the web portal with a single click

August 12, 2009

Feature - BOINC gets social with Facebook

A screen shot of Progress Thru Processors.

For the first time, Facebook users are signing on to volunteer grid computing, thanks to a new application called Progress thru Processors.
“For all the promise of volunteer computing, the problem is that no one’s ever heard of it,” said Matt Blumberg, executive director of Grid Republic, “and that’s a big deal for a technology where the utility of the thing is a function of the number of people who participate.”
Progress thru Processors could change all that. The project was developed jointly by Intel, Grid Republic, and the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. BOINC, which was originally created at University of California at Berkeley to assist in analyzing data in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), is the platform on which Grid Republic’s software is based. Progress thru Processors is an adaptation of Grid Republic’s so

July 22, 2009


Announcement - IBM receives award for World Community Grid

Earlier this month, IBM received the Coffey International Award for its contributions to the World Community Grid. The award recognizes corporate programmes that have had a positive impact on at least one of the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals.
“The scale, significance, power and potential of World Community Grid is impressive,” said Charles Duff, Chair of judges. “IBM has collaborated with a wide spectrum of research partners and encouraged businesses, community groups and individuals to provide free computational capacity to support international humanitarian projects.”
WCG gains its power from the aggregated spare computing capacity of 1.3 million personal computers belonging to 460,000 volunteers from over 200 countries. “The judges salute IBM’s programme and hope that the recognition conferred by this award will encourage individuals everywhere to join with IBM so th

July 15, 2009

Feature - Conserving bio-diversity at Peru’s CIP

A few of the many varieties of potatoes. CIP maintains the world’s largest genetic bank of potatoes, including 1500 samples of 100 wild species collected in eight Latin American countries, as well as samples of 3800 traditional Andean cultivated potatoes. The collection is maintained under the auspices of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, and is available to plant breeders worldwide free upon request. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy International Potato Center

What do the objects at right have in common?
They’re all potatoes.
And their continuing variety will be partly because of the grid.The International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIP) seeks to ensure the genetic diversity of this staple food crop. The organization also seeks to reduce poverty and achieve food security on a sustained basis in developing countries through scientific research and related activities —

June 24, 2009

Opinion - The age of citizen cyberspace

Using LHC@home, particle beam dynamics can be studied with volunteer computing. Image courtesy CERN

(François Grey, one of the key people behind the founding of the present-day iSGTW and a frequent contributor to these pages, argues that with volunteer computing, we are about to embark upon a new era of “citizen science.”)
I first met Rytis Slatkevicius in 2006, when he was 18. At the time, he had assembled the world’s largest database of prime numbers — those which are only divisible by themselves and one.
He had done this by harnessing the spare processing power of computers belonging to thousands of prime-number enthusiasts, using the internet. 
Today, Rytis is a mild-mannered MBA student by day and an avid prime-number sleuth by night. His project, called PrimeGrid, is tackling a host of numerical challenges, such as finding the longest arithmetic progression of prime numbers (the current record is 25). P

May 27, 2009

Feature - Volunteer computing against childhood cancer

Image courtesy of WCG.

Researchers from the Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute and Chiba University in Japan are launching a new World Community Grid project with IBM to discover a drug treatment for neuroblastoma, the most common cause of death in children with solid tumors. Help Fight Childhood Cancer, as the project is known, uses idle computational power from volunteers’ home and office computers to identify promising drug candidates.Most physicians believe that neuroblastoma is caused by accidental cell growth that occurs during normal development of the sympathetic ganglia and adrenal glands. This condition occurs most often the first two years of life, and poses a high risk for disease relapse with survival rates under 40 percent.The new Help Fight Childhood Cancer project uses volunteered computational power to identify which of the three million potential drug candidates prohibit growth of three proteins, TrkB, AL

May 20, 2009

Link of the week - IBM and WCG quickly launch influenza treatment project

The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus (shown above), killing more than 500,000 people in the United States, and up to 50 million worldwide. The possible source was a newly emerged virus from a swine or an avian host of a mutated H1N1 virus. Many people died within the first few days after infection, and others died of complications later. Nearly half of those who died were young, healthy adults. Influenza A (H1N1) viruses still circulate today after being introduced again into the human population in the 1970s.
Image courtesy of CDC's public health image library (#8160)

Lab tests on drug candidates for drug-resistant influenza strains and new strains, such as H1N1, may begin in just weeks — thanks to World Community GridResearchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch will run virtual chemistry experiments on the World Community Grid to identify the chemical compoun

March 18, 2009

Feature - Volunteer computing goes East Image courtesy of Asia@home. The year 2009 marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of SETI@home, a program that uses spare capacity on ordinary PCs and laptops to analyze data from radiotelescopes in search of elusive signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. SETI@home was downloaded by millions and launched a wave of science projects that rely on volunteer computing.  In April, a workshop in Taipei and a seminar in Beijing, both under the banner of Asia@Home, aim to raise awareness among scientists in Asia of the huge – and so far largely unexploited – potential of such volunteer computing for science projects in their region. Inspired by the success of SETI@home, over 50 volunteer computing projects now use an open source software platform called BOINC, devised by the director of SETI@Home, David Anderson of the University of California at Berkeley. These projects include everything from LHC@home for simulating beam dynamics of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to MalariaC