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Sounds like some spam? Well I aint asking for dollars but it would be nice if you could use your spare CPU cycles to help scientists design the cheap solar systems of tomorrow.

No nanosolar is not going to save the world. They are 1 good idea and we need many more if we are finally going to get solar to pump some serious watts into the supply.

So if you don't have thousands to donate.. How about donating CPU cycles?

I recently came across this

It seems to be a recent start and already people seem to be flocking to it. However right now they say it will be 2 years to complete! By then it may be pointless anyway and the delay will mean only more coal is burned and more oil flows into the gas tanks of SUVs.

If we could get more people on the extra WUs done would surely speed up the process and hopefully put a serious dent in that 2 year timetable.

Perhaps you could talk to your boss about consider running it on office computers? Adding to the PR of how the company is using its own computers in the fight against climate change!

The BBC climate change experiment years ago used PCs around the world to demonstrate the effects of global warming. Breaking the back of several GW denial claims.

I will not lie to you however, The CPU will run at 60-100 percent and depending on wattage it will increase your power bill. So do not feel guilty when it comes time to shut the PC down. Better to shut it down and just get one WU a day done than looking at the power bill later and uninstall it after you tried to get 3-4.

Good Luck!

Originally posted to Zachstar on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:17 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

    so to save energy, LETS USE MORE OF IT. sorry this is insane. my pc is idle most of the time and its staying that way.

    •  It's legit way to research... (6+ / 0-)

      The idea is that the total amount of electricity used is cheaper when it's spread out over many small machines. The alternative is multiple supercomputers using industrial amounts of electricity.

      In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

      by Lefty Mama on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:57:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, not the idea... (6+ / 0-)

        ...please redraft this diary if possible to clarify.  Nearly everyone's computer is idle, even when it's turned on, unless you only use it to play graphics-intensive games.  

        The idea of distributed computing like this is to divy up a problem over a great many machines  and use idle compute cycles to solve complex problems that might otherwise require a much more expensive, specialized supercomputer -- something generally not available to low priority basic research projects like the ones linked in the diary, since they're usually too busy parsing your telephone conversations to have time for virtual chemistry problems without weapons applications.

        Check the links for more details if you're curious.  If I didn't have to keep my machine stripped bare of games and other software likely to interfere with it doing it's main function I'd love to help.  If I ever bother to figure our wireless networks perhaps I'd keep an old laptop running these apps in the background, hooked to the 'net, but I'm still stuck with a singleton connection, largely due to poor organization skills.

      •  much of science is modelling (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drbloodaxe, B Unis

        and alot of modelling can be done on home computers.  Why do they need your computer?  because each model tests one set of parameters, and for some sciences, the number of cases that must be tested is astronomical.

        I don't understand why we cannot just all get along.

        by Blue State 68 on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 05:26:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Someone's computer is evenutally... (5+ / 0-)

      ... going to do these calculations, and consume the energy required to do them.  

      The only question really is: Is Harvard going to have to pay for that computer time, or will you donate yours?

      •  This still sounds slightly "off"... (0+ / 0-)

        ... the way you're describing it, no offense intended.  After all, even with the recent financial meltdown, Harvard has a nearly unimaginably large endowment.  They can afford computers.

        The issue is not saving Harvard's Chem department money, unless you are directly implying (computer) time = money, in which case, by 1960s standards, your idle PC is tossing millions (or at least oodles) of 1965 dollars out the window every month you leave it running.

        It's my understanding, at least, that such distributed computing is a relatively cheap way to do work that would otherwise require superconductors and huge parallel processing machines to do the same modeling or simulations in a similar time frame.  (And that kind of computer time, as I understand it is still hideously expensive and available only to projects with bottomless pockets).  

        Alternate energy, in most cases, is not going to make any single person rich, though it may make a great many people less poor.  As such, those with the vested (ethical and financial) interest are the ones most likely to make it happen, as they're the ones most likely to reap benefits.  

        On the other hand, Harvard does tend to protect its patents so I could be wrong.

    •  Um, your computer is WASTING ELECTRICITY (0+ / 0-)

      all the time it's sitting idle.  This makes your comp do real, useful work continuously, so some collective good is coming from what would otherwise be wasted electricity.

      Even when you're actively using your comp, most times 90% of CPU cycles are wasted.

      Got a problem with my posts? Quit reading them. They're usually opinions, and I don't come here to get in arguments.

      by drbloodaxe on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:26:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't understand this diary at all... (0+ / 0-)

    And (I think) I'm reasonably tech savvy. Could you please explain more clearly exactly what you are suggesting??

    "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

    by flitedocnm on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:58:26 PM PST

    •  Perhaps let me ask more specifically: (0+ / 0-)

      Exactly how can all of us donate our computer time to this project? How does this run over the net? How could this possibly be done without huge security issues? How about the inefficiencies of a widely distributed network?

      Or are you talking about local area networks? Isn't that already being done within institutions?

      "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

      by flitedocnm on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:01:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's like Seti@home (10+ / 0-)


        When your computer goes into screen saver mode, the program uses that time to perform the calculations needed for the project - in the case of Seti@home, its searching for a particular signal from space.  

        •  Interesting. So, how does one sign up? And will (0+ / 0-)

          the programs run on differnet OS's, e.g. Macs?

          What are the actual estimates of energy savings?


          "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

          by flitedocnm on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:20:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just found the answer to my Mac question: "No" (3+ / 0-)

            For The Clean Energy Project, the minimum requirements are:
            At least 512 MB RAM (with virtual memory enabled)
            200 MB Hard Disk Drive with at least 50 MB available for use
            The ability to display 8-bit graphics at 800x600 resolution
            An Internet connection with minimum 40kpbs speed
            Operating System: Windows ME, 2000, XP, or Vista

            Too bad.  :-(

            "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

            by flitedocnm on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:24:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The program isn't far enough along to ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            have a specific goal of some amount of energy production.  This is basic research of the fundamentals.  They're just looking for new materials and their properties at this stage.  Once they have candidate materials, they can start estimating savings.


            The project will begin by selecting a handful of motifs, modifying each one with various chemical substituents, and changing the size of the altered motifs; this results in tens of thousands of compounds to study. The first phase will enable the researchers to determine the general electronic properties of these molecules.

            After this stage, scientists will be able to select a few dozen promising candidates. These candidates will be subject to extremely detailed simulations that will uncover their energy transport properties, including the effects of temperature and the environment.

            •  Actually, I wasn't asking about the energy (0+ / 0-)

              savings from the discovery of new molecules, rather the estimated energy (and while I'm asking, cost) savings by using the donated and distributed computing model to run the research computations?

              "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

              by flitedocnm on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:35:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Depends wildly. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lefty Mama, flitedocnm

                But overall it is slightly less efficient per watt.

                But the ability to get so many people all around the world involved means you can actually get to work and not sit around and wait for your application for time on a supercomputer to be approved. Which these days can take years as GW research floods the networks.

              •  My bad! I think in general the ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ... advantages of this program aren't about the efficiency savings of the networked computing (which might actually not exist) but about reducing the time it will take to get results and reducing the expense to Harvard, which otherwise would have to purchase more computing time on a mainframe.  

  •  Let me make it simpler. (9+ / 0-)

    You go to this website

    To download this software

    The software waits until you're not using your computer, then starts running a program that helps researchers look for new materials for more efficient solar cells.  Specifically it does this:

    How will The Clean Energy Project help find solar cell materials?
    Understanding the properties of new materials that are the basis of alternative sources of renewable energy represents one of today’s major scientific challenges. Many of these materials are composed of large organic molecules that contain hundreds of atoms. These atoms can be rearranged in multiple ways to fine-tune the properties of the desired material. With the aid of World Community Grid, researchers will evaluate the conductive properties of at least 100,000 molecular structures (created by combinatorial methods) that are suitable for organic solar cells applications. The results of such an enormous number of computations will be used to create a database of molecular properties for data mining, which will be publicly available.

    If many people allow these researchers to utilize the computing power of many computers which would otherwise just be sitting there idle, they can help these researchers at Harvard come up with better materials for solar panels.  A pretty cool idea.  Yes, your computer will probably use a bit more power while it works on this program than it would have used in idle (or off), but if it's not your computer, it's just going to be some mainframe at Harvard which uses even more power.  This way you get to donate you computer's time to a worthy endeavor.  

    Other not-for-profit organizations (which I assume this Harvard study is) have used this same technique.  It started with the SETI @ Home program, where you could use your home comptuer to help researchers look for extraterrestrial life by analyzing radio-waves for transmissions from aliens.  There's another popular one that has your computer search for new life-saving drugs by trying out protein combinations.  

    •  Thanks LE. I have an idle computer that can (0+ / 0-)

      handle it.  I'm not too worried about the security issues, I think the network and firewalls will be adequate.

      "The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." Oliver Wendell Holmes

      by AvoMonster on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 02:46:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what they are running on your computer (5+ / 0-)

    They are running simulations on your computer and sending the data back to the lab. The simulations take into account molecular properties and then they randomize some data to produce a hypothetical molecule.  Then they test it through additional simulation and analysis to see if it has the properties they are looking for. If it works, then it might result in more powerful solar cells.

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:17:17 PM PST

  •  175 million computers and if 80% are idle (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, flitedocnm, polar bear

    16 hours a day. I wonder how much computing power that is?

    just ball parking numbers, but you get the idea.

  •  Wow (8+ / 0-)

    I have seen projects like this going on for near a decade now.  I am surprised that so many are questioning it.  The most well known system that runs on this model is Seti@Home which uses your computer to process through scientific data looking for particular signatures.  Once its done it uploads the work results back to their servers.   Another popular system is Folding@Home.  If I remember correctly, that systems big project to date was the human genome project.  

    The point of these systems is to create a large distributed processing system very similar to a supercomputer.   With many home computers processing data simultaneously it is possible to achieve processing capabilities at supercomputer speeds at a very cheap rate.  For the person participating there is the expense of the price of electricity to run your computer but many choose to view it as a donation to scientific achievement.  

    While you dont get much more than satisfaction running the program can be of great benefit.  The article mentioned that the expected processing time right now is 2 years.  By adding larger numbers of computers and processing power to the pool working on this particular problem the completion time can come down very rapidly.  This can enable research to continue at a much quicker pace.

    •  OK, I'm learning -- will the Clean Energy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polar bear, Vladislaw

      software link with BOINC as does Seti at Home? It wouldn't appear so. BOINC does have a Mac version, and looks to be pretty nifty.

      I really don't think that this has been well publicized amongst the unwashed masses.

      (Or maybe I'm just more unwashed than I realized.  :-)

      "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

      by flitedocnm on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:31:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think Folding@Home has always been (0+ / 0-)

      about protein structure.

      Ferengi Rules of Acquisition: #34 "War is good for business...but only from a distance, the closer to the front lines, the less profitable it gets"-8.25, -6.21

      by Jacques on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 12:01:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's do some math (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    B Unis

    If your computer is chugging along at 100%, it's using maybe 80 watts. Add in a few more for cooling and support - let's be generous and say its 150W total.

    That's 0.15kwh for every hour it's running.

    At 15 cents/kwh, that's 2.5 cents of power per hour.

    I wouldn't worry about the power bill.

    •  Okay, it's late (0+ / 0-)

      And my math is a little's actually 2.25 cents per hour.

    •  I dont assume people are rich. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polar bear, Vladislaw

      Also alot of that energy ends up as heat. Meaning more energy used to remove the heat from your home. Some computers with a certain brand of CPU can heat up a room easily. Especially if you dont have a good cooler and the heat causes resistance to skyrocket. Adding to the heat.

      People running multiple computers for Fold@Home and especially if adding a PS3 to the mix can see 30 USD added easily!

      But those types are usually doing so to add points to their "team" Which has angered me slightly because some are afraid to move away from looking for aliens because they want to keep adding to a number of points. But that is besides the point.

      •  Points? Teams? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, Lefty Mama, B Unis

        I think it would help if you explain your terms when bringing up all this new stuff.  It's great that you're getting this program some exposure on DailyKos, but from some of the comments, it looks like you need to start with the assumption that your audience knows nothing about these programs.  

      •  Where I live, that added heat would just as often (0+ / 0-)

        be saving me money, in that there would be LESS need to ADD heat to the often cold room where my computer lives.  At worst it's a wash for me, but then I don't plan on adding multiple machines for the task, I'd just be offering up the idle cycles when it makes less practical sense to shut down a machine than leave it running.  

        I understand the motives driving those playing for "points" but I'm guessing they're a smaller fraction of the total "players" in the project than they imagine themselves to be?   Don't correct me if I'm wrong on this, as my participation hinges on this unexamined assumption.  ;)

    •  Thanks for quantifying what I'd been (0+ / 0-)

      thinking.  It was a mistake to focus on the bump in operating costs.  In all the months I ran SETI@Home I never saw a change in my power bill (or the operation of the machine it ran on) that I could pin on SETI.

  •  Who's going to own the product (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    B Unis

    of all this donated computer time?

    Will it be a non-profit that shares the results free/cheap?

    Or will it wind up in the patent portfolio of some Big Oil company?

    •  Good question. (0+ / 0-)

      You might look at Harvard's patent policies for a probable answer, but perhaps the project has worked out a side deal with the university.  If the answer is not in the project's FAQ, it should be.

    •  My reading of the FAQ (0+ / 0-)

      suggests that any monetary benefit will accrue to those who apply the research to build a product.  The focus of the project itself seems to be more on identifying potential molecules and materials than on engineering them into a specific, salable product.

      The FAQ should have addressed this question in some way, though, as I'm making a lot of assumptions in interpreting it this way.

      •  Yes, but who CAN "apply the research"? (0+ / 0-)

        To clarify:  I'm not worried about who actually makes the money.  I wouldn't even care if Exxon did,  as long as BP,  Kyocera,  and anyone else who wants to compete can get the rights to do so at a fair price.

        I just don't want to see all this outpuring of volunteer effort used to enable Shell or Exxon pay bigger executive bonuses because they didn't have to buy their own supercomputers to run the analysis,  but still wound up owning the patents.

        I'd like to see some assurance from the people running the project that,  if something big does come out of this,  it'll be used to create a competitive industry that will spread the technology as widely and cheaply as possible.

        •  I highly doubt it would be that extreme. (0+ / 0-)

          More than likely the basic research will be in peer reviewed papers and the implementation will be proprietary.

          This project is not studying solar cells. It is studying aspects of basically plastic. Looking for one that CAN be used in construction.

          So whatever chain of carbon atoms this finds that works good likely cant be patented and hidden by big oil. It is if it requires special gear that it can be patented for 20 or so years.

          Yet a whole industry exists on ways to work around patents so it is not an issue.

          •  I don't think they'd hide anything. (0+ / 0-)

            BP,  for example,  is running network TV ads touting how big they are on solar.  And all the Big Oil companies would like to be well-positioned to keep making money from energy as oil profits decline in the coming decades.

            My concern is that one of them might have said "Instead of spending $10M on supercomputers,  let's give 50 grand to this university,  and have them do the work (which we'll own as a condition of the grant) using volunteers on the Interwebz".

            I just don't want high-minded volunteers unknowingly funding some VP's condo in Tahiti.

            •  Like I said this isnt that kind of research. (0+ / 0-)

              This isnt "if we stick 1000 electrodes here how will that affect this"

              From what I can tell it is more like "This chunk of plastic does what when exposed to heat and light"

  •  Fantastic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    B Unis

    I did seti@home for many years on multiple computers, then switched mainly over to the protein folding distributed computing projects.  We need many more of these projects going, glad to find out about another :)

    Got a problem with my posts? Quit reading them. They're usually opinions, and I don't come here to get in arguments.

    by drbloodaxe on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 10:27:25 AM PST

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