Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Filling Out Our Distributed Computing Collection

Now that we've shown the Distributed computing projects really do belong in the realm of Citizen Science (see our earlier blog post), let's add a few more to our growing list. 

All of the projects below are available for new participants and ready to download.  But one difference from my previous lists is that we are starting to add a few independent projects not directly linked to the BOINC or World Computing Grid networks.  So while there is a VERY MINOR additional set-up required don't let that scare you.  It will literally take less than a minute and you'll be up and running.  Not only that, but as independent projects outside the scope of the larger groups your participation is appreciated that much more.  In many cases these are citizen scientists just like you creating their own programs, so let's do what we can to help.

  • Simulate Particle Accelerator Designs: Muon1 (http://stephenbrooks.org/muon1/) is trying to design better particle accelerators by simulating how particles would actually flow in various configurations.  In this case, the project is experimenting with the pion-to-muon decay channel, adding different components (such as a muon "cooling ring") in successive versions.  Don't worry if this is a little over your head...suffice it to say this is an important problem for physicists to understand.  To get started, visit the Muon1 project site and click on the downloadable zip file of the software appropriate to your computer.  Save it in its own folder and open the "muon1.exe" file.  The program may then need to extract additional files before running (click on "extract" if requested) and then run "Muon1.exe" again to run the full program.  That's all there is to it.  If you want to play around a bit more, view the "readme.txt" file for directions on making it your standard screensaver or running it continuously in the background.
  • Model our Galaxy's Formation: The MilkyWay@Home (http://milkyway.cs.rpi.edu/milkyway/) project is trying to understand how our Galaxy was formed and whether it collided with smaller galaxies in the past. To test this theory, researchers are modeling the Sagittarius galaxy (a nearby companion galaxy to ours) to identify the path it may have taken through our galaxy and whether it would  look the same way it does today after such a collision.  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Model our Universe's Formation: The Cosmology@Home (http://www.cosmologyathome.org/) project is trying to understand the conditions present when the universe began and simulate it's development over billions of years.  Researchers will then compare the resulting value of certain physical values (such as the cosmic microwave background, rate of expansion, distribution of galaxies, etc.) against their current known values.  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Roll the Dice on Quantum Mechanics: Quantum Monte Carlo (http://qah.uni-muenster.de/) is trying to better understand the solutions to certain problems in quantum mechanics.  Current solutions only describe the simplest of situations so distributed computing is the next hope for moving the field forward.  This project differs from others by using a Monte Carlo simulation heavily reliant on random numbers (thus the dice analogy).  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.
  • Stabilize Nanaotchnology: Magnetism@Home (http://kinetic.dnsalias.org/magnetism/) hopes to understand the magnetic properties of nano-scale compounds.  These effects are not normally seen for macro-scale technology but are vitally important at the molecular and sub-atomic levels.  Click on our BOINC blog post for easy directions on getting started.

As always, these are also available on our Distributed Computing Projects Open for You page.  So check these out or any of the others we've been listing.  It's not a 100% complete list yet but a large number of the most active projects are included.  I've also tried to maintain the list by keeping off those projects which have completed or no longer seem active.  But if there are ones you'd like me to add just let me know in the comments.  I'll be happy to include them!

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